Safety Culture Enables the Future of Automotive Development
November 16th, 2021 – Reading time: 5 minutes
What is required for the future of automotive?
Every year the automotive industry pushes the bounds of what was thought to be possible with new and exciting innovations. Self-driving technology, Artificial Intelligence, onboard generators, and charging lanes are starting to reach the market and make their way into consumers’ hands. Each automotive development however brings its own set of complexities and dangers. What is necessary to overcome these challenges and fully realize these groundbreaking technologies? In short – Safety culture!
Why is safety culture important?
Let’s not forget why we are developing new technologies. Surely, it’s fun and exciting, but it’s really about making the world better. If we do this in an unsafe way, it hardly achieves this goal. At it’s core, safety culture is about saving lives and protecting people from harm by orienting our work and our attitudes towards ensuring a safe product. This of course is a main reason why safety culture is important, but it’s not the only reason.
For suppliers for instance, creating a safety culture is important for the economic success and market capitalization for the company – no OEM wants to buy an unsafe product and risk the next newsworthy catastrophe. This is evident in the increasing expectations regarding complying with norms and standards such as ISO26262, ASPICE, and ISO/PAS21448. Safety culture is necessary to be able to fulfill these standards and meet the market demands of the upcoming years. And safety culture doesn’t just lead to a safe product, it leads to a much more innovative product, enabling a company to be technological leader, not just a financial one. The more your organization cares about creating a safe product, the earlier you will find the faults in the system, the faster you will change them, and the more your engineers will come up with new innovative solutions that your competitors haven’t.
What is safety culture?
Safety culture means that every employee in the organization who interfaces with the product development prioritizes safety and will do whatever is necessary to make a safe product, regardless of the rules, structures, and checkpoints that are in place. Safety culture is the shared values of each employee in an organization concerning safety and it manifests in the daily actions of the team. It may be hard to quantify, but it is easy to see, and its effects are felt every day – think of the quality of conversations that engineers have regarding the safety of the product, the speed and intention that identified safety risks are handled, and the diligence with which the real value of each work product is considered.
How is it achieved?
Safety culture doesn’t just apply to one person or one team, it applies to the entire corporate culture. We see that organizations broad cultures unifying them, and also micro-cultures that might manifest in a certain team or for a specific product. The level we are talking about here must be at least at the product level, but really ought to be at the highest level – that safety is a priority throughout the entire organization and doesn’t get lost after the latest product release.
This by nature makes this game a marathon not a sprint. It will take time to change safety culture, and it will come as a result of consistent improvements. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a strategy! Some things we find are necessary regardless of where you are in the process of change. Leaders must talk about the priority of safety, and act like they mean it. Incentive mechanisms should be created that reward employees for actions that support product safety. Standard meetings or reporting mechanisms should be in place that make every employee think about how their work effects safety. Roles and responsibilities of the whole team need to be more clearly defined and include a safety element. Processes need to be improved to include better controlling mechanisms around the most important safety processes.
This game of establishing a safety culture in an organization may be a long and difficult process, but it is very winnable. If you’d like to find out more about these tools and how you can influence the safety culture at your organization call or reach out to one of our experts at INVENSITY!