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Guide Keys to Behavior-Based Safety

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Audits revealed that some supervisors "pencil whipped" their observations to make their department look good and to receive recognition. Is this a common issue with BBS and how can you overcome this? Whether it is supervisors pencil whipping forms to look good, or frontline employees pencil whipping forms to avoid getting in trouble, it is important to be alert to pencil whipping and avoid setting up circumstances that inadvertently encourage it.

Avoid large rewards or elaborate recognition for data that suggests good performance, and also avoid negative consequences for data that suggests bad performance. The best kinds of consequences are those that help people see the impact of what they are doing. For supervisors, rather than praising them in a large group meeting for having a good score, have a one-on-one discussion about how their observations went, what they learned, what kind of conversations they had.

This gets at the heart of why we should be doing observations and helps supervisors to see the value in doing them. Is it acceptable to list 'unsafe act' or 'at risk behavior' as an incident cause? Not without answering why the at-risk behavior occurred and whether or not others are likely to do the same. The whole point of investigations is to prevent similar incidents from happening. Very often if one person is doing an at-risk behavior, others are as well because the consequences in the work environment encourage it in some way. Find those consequences and change them and you are more likely to prevent similar at-risk behaviors and thus incidents.

How important is it for employees at all levels of the organization to be made aware of and able to assess hazards in the workplace?

Behavior-Based Safety: Top 13 Questions Answered | Cority

Ideally, everyone in an organization is able to identify hazards, but if not, it is something that can be shaped over time. As I mentioned during the webinar , once people start doing behavioral observations, they often become more alert to hazardous conditions as well. Joint observations are a great opportunity to do some just-in-time training in hazard recognition. The reason people put quotas on observations is to encourage observations. Talk to people about their observations and how they are helping, show them the impact their observations are having, ask them if doing observations on others makes them personally behave more safely the research shows that it does.

Issuing a quota and then just managing the numbers will undermine the effectiveness of your behavior-based safety process. Focus on quality and impact, not quantity. We have invested a lot on BBS for our Construction site, but in the end we concluded that it was more beneficial to improve the overall skills of the supervisor to improve overall performance. Do you have any studies developing supervisor skills? I am not aware of any studies, but we at ADI often recommend exactly that approach to our clients who have a fluctuating or transient workforce.

The supervisor is often the only consistent person on the job site over time so if you train and coach your supervisors in having frequent, meaningful, and largely positive interactions with frontline employees around critical safe behaviors, you will definitely see improvement. There were several additional questions related to construction and transient workforces, and the other recommendation we make for such circumstances is to identify a short list of the most critical behaviors for those workers.

For example, if ladder use is a frequent requirement and you have experienced a lot of incidents related to ladder use, identify some critical safe behaviors around ladders, clearly spell them out to all workers who arrive on site, and follow up with frequent observations, feedback and consequences.

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This kind of targeted observation will often be more effective than trying to observe for every possible safe behavior. In the behavior-based safety system we help our clients implement, managers have scorecards with a list of leader behaviors they should engage in to support BBS and safety in general. It always includes positively reinforcing observers for doing observations, and also always includes behaviors related to hazard remediation. The same goes for engineers—they have scorecards that include things like talking with operators as they design equipment.

Everyone in the organization that impacts safety should have a scorecard with their critical behaviors listed. Follow up and positive accountability for doing those behaviors must also be included. Some EHS professionals make you think the two are incompatible.

Such statements are based in a superficial understanding of BBS and the science of behavior, and do not help advance the field of safety. ADI has several books and articles that can provide a solid background see Additional Resources section below , but there are others trained in the science that have books and resources as well. I also recommend the annual Behavioral Safety Now conference, which takes place every fall, as a great place to learn and network.

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The book Removing Obstacles to Safety includes case studies at the end of each chapter, and we have included some of our client case studies below as well. The following books, articles and case studies provide a more in-depth understanding of the science of behavior, Behavior-Based Safety, and how to create a positive and proactive culture of safety in your organization:.

Safe by Accident?

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Q: I want to use a behavior-based approach to workplace safety at my company, but I want to do it well. Appoint Dedicated Team Members: Arguably, this is the most important step in the development and implementation of a workplace BBS program. Your team should consist of management and front-line employees that are familiar with the concept of behavior-based safety.

The members of this team will be responsible for leading the program design and setting measures of success.

13 Common Questions About Behavior-Based Safety Answered

Analyze Data: Every company has a wealth of data that can be analyzed, such as results from safety audits and inspections find out the Difference Between a Safety Audit and a Specific Investigation. Develop a Critical Checklist: By completing data analysis, your team will be able to identify at-risk and safe behaviors. From there, create a checklist that can be used when observing employee behavior.

Your list should define everything that needs to be measured, including the who, where, when and what.


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Check the usability of the list by observing an employee working and determine if all categories on your list can be completed during an inspection. Implement a Measurement System: Your measurement system should be simple and track the frequency of safe and risky employee actions during a behavioral observation. Conduct Behavioral Observations: Appoint a team member to carry out the observations and decide how often observations will be conducted. The observer should make note of significant positive safety behaviors and at-risk behaviors observed, as well as the areas that require changes.

Feedback regarding the observation process should be obtained immediately after the observation. Describe the behavior observed. Discuss its potential impact. Use visuals such as graphs to explain findings at safety meetings. Make Use of the Data: Use the valuable data obtained to generate solutions to mitigate potential risk. Create a plan of action to change at-risk behaviors, which can include for example, testing hypotheses, making adjustments, and promoting new safe behaviors.

Evaluate: Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the program using the improvement goals set out by the appointed team and make program changes as needed. Share this:. Written by Adrian Bartha. Adrian Bartha is the CEO of eCompliance, which he joined in after experiencing first-hand how a workplace incident affected a power and utilities company which he led as a member of the Board of Directors.


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When Adrian is out of the office, he can be found riding his futuristic motorcycle and wearing his RoboCop helmet.