Safetip #40: Identify Behaviors Needed for Safety Performance
Reducing At-Risk Behaviors Improves Safety
For every accident or injury, there are probably many at-risk behaviors. Each at-risk behavior has the potential to cause an incident later. Leading organizations recognize that an increase in safe behaviors leads to a decrease in the number of incidents. This is why many organizations have turned to Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) to reduce incidents by collecting and analyzing observational data. The capture and analysis of at-risk behaviors helps to identify patterns, trends and root causes.
The First Step of a BBS Implementation Process Is to Identify Behaviors
Implementing a BBS program is a process that includes many steps. It’s not enough to simply observe behaviors and adjust accordingly. The Construction Owners Association of Alberta (COAA) has made available an excellent document, “Best Practice For Behaviour-Based Safety”, that provides guidance to organizations seeking to implement a BBS program.
COAA points out that the very first step of the process is to identify the behaviors critical to obtaining required safety performance. In this step, the behaviors that workers, supervisors and management need to perform to achieve the desired safety performance (e.g. zero injuries) are identified. A number of sources can be used for possible behaviors, including:
- Learning experience reports
- Incident investigations
- Interviews with workers
- First aid/injury records and details
- Incident and inspection trends
All segments of the workforce should be involved in identifying behaviors: experienced workers, supervisors, new workers, and management. Including workers in the selection of behaviors encourages them to get involved and to provide their feedback regarding the process, COAA says.
Finally, behaviors should be described as specifically as possible. COAA provides the following criteria for behavior descriptions:
- Active (i.e. something the worker has to do)
- Reliable (i.e. the behavior is repeated the same way each time and at least two people can see the behavior and measure it the same way)
- Controllable (i.e. the action is under the control of the worker performing it)
- Specific (i.e. described in a way that is understandable)
Once the key behaviors are identified, the next step of the BBS process can be initiated, which consists of communicating the behaviors, and the correct way of performing them, to all workers.
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