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Safety Culture Initiative Seeks to Empower Staff to Improve Agency

December 14, 2022

By Robert Johnson

Department of Corrections

DOC is starting a safety culture initiative to help empower staff to voice concerns.

A new initiative seeks to make the Department of Corrections a safer and more transparent workplace that empowers staff and increases job satisfaction.

Director of Quality Systems Rae Simpson is working to implement a Safety Culture that includes town halls, a hotline and other forums for discussion to give staff the opportunity to voice concerns and suggest changes throughout the department.

“Our staff wants to do a good job,” she said. “They’re doing the best they can and we want to support them to be successful and empower them to use their voice.”

That began with a pair of town halls at Stafford Creek Corrections Center. The sessions, held in early November gave staff who work any shift an opportunity to take part, included Simpson, Human Resources Director Todd Dowler and Litigation Administrator Johnny Watts. The trio took questions from attendees and asked for ideas about how to improve safety at the prison.

“They had beautiful ideas, excellent questions,” Simpson said. “I was really impressed with the engagement. We’re in the first steps of our journey but we are excited about this. That first town hall showed we are on the right track.”

Simpson said the team has gotten a toll–free number (866–394–4832) set up for staff throughout DOC to call when they have concerns about safety. The group will also add a virtual option to the town halls – the next of which will be in early December – post the minutes from each session and follow up on action items to show how a concern has been addressed.

After the Safety Culture format is running smoothly at Stafford Creek it will expand to other facilities and eventually be used statewide.

“If we can show that staff gave us one idea and we did something that will encourage more ideas,” Simpson said. “Positivity can grow. It’s going to take time, resources, energy and give on both sides.”