Behavior Based Safety (BBS) is a process aimed at reinforcing daily behavior by employees and leaders through safety observations, reducing the risks of accidents in the workplace. No matter the size of the organization, applying BBS requires a dynamic and innovative team that will assess and implement actions in an effort to continually enhance the occupational safety management system.
The idea is that employees are able to manage safety on their own, identifying, understanding and gauging risks prior to taking actions to lessen the chance of accidents by changing behaviors.
It is fundamental to assure that upper management and leaders are committed, as well as that the frontline team is on board. It is crucial that everyone participate so that there is alignment with the program’s goals, otherwise the company’s initiative in creating and maintaining a BBS program will likely fail. During the early planning stages of the program, a meeting is held by a team of professionals already familiar with behavior based safety in order to help you with your program and determine measures of success.
How to implement a behavior based safety (BBS) program
To implement an effective behavior based safety program, your organization should establish a culture of safety that follows these steps:
How employees perform their tasks on a daily basis is assessed at this stage. So-called “observers” need to be employees trained on conducting safety assessments in the workplace and have to be experienced in the tasks they are observing;
It is important that the entire organization be aware of what the observation period will be so that the situation is not qualified as a “trap” by workers.
A checklist form can help to orient the observer by focusing on employees’ actions, approaches and attitudes
This checklist ought to have questions associated with the context of a behavior based safety program. Some topics covered could include employee actions and decisions related to ergonomics, personal protective equipment (PPE), tools and equipment, work area, procedures, protection from falls and use of chemical products.
Feedback should be given during and/or after the observation. Praising good behavior encourages people to continue to use these practices. Likewise, the observer may want to interrupt and correct undesired or unsafe behavior as it occurs in order to break the barriers of bad habits.
Encourage observers to maintain clear communication with workers, keeping records on what led these professionals to use unsafe behavior. This can result in a lack of resources that have yet to be covered by your company.
After observation is done and all feedback is shared, the observer should send comments on the period to the appropriate team, which will take actions to guarantee that good behavior continues.
It is important to remember that the goal of a BBS program is to correct rather than to punish unsafe behaviors.
As with any program, applying targets is essential to guaranteeing its efficacy. Some targets that can be applied to your program include reducing potentially accident-causing incidents or getting 100% of employees to use their personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly. Here it is important that targets be measurable and tangible. Having manageable targets along with an action plan is sure to increase the chances for success in a BBS program and will guarantee that everyone is engaged.
The main benefits of a BBS program are:
- Shared vision of a “zero accident” culture;
- Significant reduction in accidents;
- Engagement by employees and teamwork;
- Positive reinforcement instead of assigning responsibility for mistakes;
- Consolidation of an efficient culture of safety;
- Direct and active involvement and support from upper management and at other managerial levels.
With a BBS program, your entire organization, from management to frontline employees, are constantly being observed to discover trends in unsafe behaviors.
The main goal of a BBS program is to provide positive reinforcement of safe practices while also identifying unsafe behavioral standards. Whenever necessary and in an effort to reduce or avoid accidents, actions suited to fundamental changes are generated, continually enhancing the occupational safety management system.
By changing behavior, employees begin to better understand the risks to which they are exposed and the attitudes that they need to take to avoid accidents and other deviations from safety.
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