Safetip #59: Positive Reinforcement for Safe Behaviors

December 14, 2016

This week’s Safetip is about Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) and giving positive reinforcement when safe behaviors are observed as part of a BBS process.

Identify and Communicate Key Behaviors

As part of a Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) process, observational data is collected and analyzed to reduce at-risk behaviors that can lead to incidents. The Construction Owners Association of Alberta (COAA) has published a best practice for BBS that includes steps to implement a BBS program. The first step of COAA’s BBS implementation process is to needed to achieve the desired safety performance (e.g. reducing near misses by a certain percentage). The second step consists of identified in step 1 to all workers. Once the first two steps are completed, the third step can be initiated: observing the workforce and recording safe and unsafe behaviors.

Look for Safe Behaviors Also, Not Just Unsafe Ones

COAA’s best practice for BBS makes a great point that organizations often overlook: It’s too easy, and it’s even part of human nature, to look only for unsafe and wrong behaviors. The primary objective of observers should be to look for behaviors being performed safely. A BBS process will give better results if more importance is given to recognizing and rewarding workers when they perform behaviors safely, COAA says.

When observers complete their observations, they should provide positive reinforcement and feedback to workers for having successfully performed the required behaviors. Additional positive reinforcement can also be provided in the form of recognition or a reward. Examples of rewards include points that can be used towards the purchase of items, participation in draws for prizes, etc.

According to COAA, providing positive reinforcement to workers when safe behaviors are observed is an important part of improving the overall behavior performance of a work group. Positive reinforcement should be given each and every time safe behaviors are observed.

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