Behavior-Based Safety

Resources - Behavior-Based Safety

Establishing a Behavior-Based Safety Process

Most behavioral safety processes are tailored to the work and management environment of the site. Despite these variations, all behavioral safety processes have three major components:

  1. Development of a list of at-risk behaviors,
  2. Observations, and
  3. Feedback.

This handbook will provide a description of the basic process of setting up and running a behavioral safety program and give some variations that have worked in different sites around DOE.

The process starts with a behavioral hazard analysis to identify at-risk behaviors. These can be determined using accident/incident reports, job hazards analysis, employee interviews, and brainstorming. In some instances, a combination of all these tools could be used.

Using the at-risk behaviors, a checklist is then developed to assist in the observation of work behavior. In addition, a list of corresponding behavior definitions is helpful in maintaining consistency between observers and the resulting data. Observers record safe and at-risk behaviors on the datasheet and provide feedback to workers about their performance. This feedback reinforces the necessity for safe behaviors.

The observation data are used to identify barriers to safe behavior. Removing these barriers lowers the workers' exposure to at-risk conditions and makes it easier for employees to work safely. Removing barriers and communicating successes increase employee involvement in the process. Many of these employees take these tools home, which helps decrease off-the-job injuries.

Readiness for Behavior-Based Safety

All aspects of BBS may not work in every organization. Employees will resist programs that promise big benefits but only result in more paperwork, less progress, and a mountain of wasted time for safety teams. Although it's no magic bullet for injury prevention, there are data to prove that, as observations go up, injuries go down. The question is: "Will it work for your company?" For BBS to succeed, your company has to be ready, and the conditions need to be right. Management support, effective management systems, and company culture are keys to determining whether or not a company is ready for a transition to BBS. Since implementation of these processes can be costly, how can one tell whether a company is ready for it?

Five conditions that increase the likelihood of success

Condition 1. Safety Leadership

Leadership must be active, visible, and genuine in their commitment to injury and illness prevention. Senior management should articulate a clear and inspiring vision that injury-free performance is the only acceptable goal. However, caution is needed here. These "vision messages" can be interpreted as "don't report injuries" as a means of achieving the goal. The organization must view safety as a core organizational priority equal to research, operations, productivity, and quality.

Condition 2. Established Integrated Safety Management System

For BBS to be effective, an integrated safety management system needs to be in place. This includes minimum compliance, accident investigation, self-assessments, safety and health training program, and record-keeping systems. More advanced systems enhancements (such as observation, coaching, safety involvement teams, job safety analysis, accountability, and safety by objectives) all rely on the basics being in place.

Condition 3. Employee Empowerment and Participation in Safety

Employee empowerment and involvement enhance safety innovation, ownership and results. Labor/management cooperation serves as a catalyst for success. Without employee participation and involvement, BBS won't get off the ground. Another critical facet of involvement is buy-in. Behavioral systems are much more effective in organizations that work hard at winning buy -in from the line to the executive office before they are introduced.

Condition 4. Organization's Safety Culture

A positive social climate of trust, openness, and respect for individuals is an intangible of organizational life that dramatically affects worker performance. When the organizational style is more negative, involvement is low, complaining replaces problem solving, and coaching seems like scolding. In companies low on trust, BBS is resisted because it symbolizes another way to oppress the worker.

Condition 5. Measurement and Accountability

What gets measured gets done. Clearly defined responsibilities at every level of the organization are the starting point for top performance. When performance evaluations include safe and at-risk behaviors, strategies can be developed to focus on real threats to worker safety.

Source: DOE

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Copyright ©2000-2019 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).