Behavior-based safety (BBS) is a method for improving health and safety in the workplace through influencing people’s thoughts, behaviors, and actions. It combines data, risk management and best practices to create healthier, more productive working environments. It’s a relatively new field, so this article will answer common questions so you can decide if it would be a useful approach for your workplace.
What Area Does Behavior-Based Safety Target?
BBS is designed to reduce preventable injuries in the workplace. These are typically injuries caused by improper equipment or training, lack of awareness, avoidable situations, or other areas where the right approach, attention, training and resources can significantly reduce the risk of injury.
What Are the Benefits of BBS?
The main benefits include ensuring that employees are protected and do not suffer workplace-related illnesses or injuries. This will enhance productivity and profitability and reduce the risk of loss due to absence or actions taken against you by injured employees.
BBS can reduce injuries by up to 80%, and proactive risk management will improve working conditions, enhance employee morale, and ultimately create a happier workplace. Dealing with risks early, before they become incidents or issues, is much less expensive than investigations, compensation, remediation and employee absence.
What is the Best Approach for Introducing BBS?
BBS is a collaboration between management and staff. Management provides guidance and training, and uses a framework to score and assess various behaviors in the workplace. Employees need to buy in to those approaches and take accountability for BBS in their tasks and activities.
What Areas Should be Considered for BBS?
There are several areas that should be monitored, measured and improved to enhance BBS:
● Training and education.
● Equipment and protection.
● Working environment and hazards.
● Operating systems and practices.
● Policies and processes.
● Risk assessment and mitigation.
How is Data Used in BBS?
Data is key to successfully implementing BBS. Employees are typically observed and measured as they go about day-to-day tasks, across various activities. Behaviors are scored and analyzed depending on how they contribute to safer or more risky working practices and compared against actual outcomes.
How Does Data Drive Action Plans for BBS?
Once behaviors, activities and outcomes have been analyzed, managers and employees can work together to create best-practice guidelines based on empirical data. These guidelines are then formalized into action plans and employees can receive training based on reducing risk and closing gaps.
What Role Does Risk Assessment and Management Play in BBS?
Risk assessment is central to BBS. Both managers and employees should understand any risks to health and safety and assign appropriate priority levels based on likelihood and impact. Mitigating actions that come from risk assessment should be built into BBS action plans and tracked in your quality management system.
How Can BBS Enhance Safety Performance?
One example of BBS, risk management and safety performance might be:
● A warehouse picker needs to meet certain criteria for picking and packing a certain number of items in an hour.
● They are measured and incentivized on these targets, so speed and accuracy are essential.
● There is tall racking in the warehouse, and items are often placed out of the employee’s reach.
● The employee cuts corners and climbs on the racking to pick certain items.
● This is a high-risk practice that requires an action plan:
1. Introduction of more movable ladders so employees can access out-of-reach products safely.
2. Reorganization of the warehouse to move certain items to be easily-pickable.
3. Training of employees on what is and is not acceptable.
As you can see, BBS can be a useful addition to any workplace. We recommend combining your BBS training program with a robust EHS system so you can easily identify, prioritize, track and mitigate health and safety risks.
Tim Lozier is the director of product strategy at EtQ. He is responsible for fostering the development of quality management software solutions and has helped shape EtQ’s strategic vision.