What are the elements of a successful behavior-based safety program?
I want to use a behavior-based approach to workplace safety at my company, but I want to do it well. What are the elements of a successful behavior-based safety program?
Promoting safe behavior at work plays a critical role in the success of your company’s Health and Safety goals. Despite the criticisms surrounding the implementation of behavior-based safety (BBS) programs in the workplace, if done right, BBS programs can improve safety by championing positive safety behavior.
Consider the following strategies when implementing a behavior-based safety program in your workplace to ensure its efficiency and success (for more advice, see Creating a Behavioral Safety Program).
- 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.
- 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). This data will provide useful information and reveal areas that can be improved (see Using EHS Data to Make Changes to Health Safety Programs for more information).
- 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. 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.
- Obtain Feedback: Ensure that team members are trained in this behavioral observation process (for training tips, see 7 Superb Psychological Tactics for EHS Training). 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.