PostHeaderIcon Safe People vs. Safe Places, A Behavioural Safety Approach

Behavioural based safety is the process that often goes against traditional health and safety approaches but this does not mean that it should be implemented as an instead of, but as an as well.  Behavioural safety training is based on the assumption that most accidents in the work place are not a result of health and safety regulation violations, unsafe equipment or dangerous conditions, but instead caused by unsafe actions, risky behaviour and poor decisions.

By analysing the activities that lead to accidents a trained health and safety consultant can analyse the employee’s behaviours at the root cause of accidents. There could be a variety of factors that affect people’s behaviour including; not fully acknowledging their behaviours towards risks, being put under pressure to complete tasks to a deadline or not being accountable for their actions. Observation is a key part of behavioural safety, aimed at fully understanding how the people in an organisation carry out their processes in the real world rather than how guidelines tell them they should be operating. It is important to do this discreetly as the very act of observation can affect people’s behaviour. Another key indicator of trends in people’s behaviour can be found in the accident log book, accidents that occur most often in a particular area or around an activity is a good place to start an investigation. The process of observation should be data driven with metrics for a number of factors such as risk, frequency and ease of implementing remedial action being taken in to account.

Once the behaviours have been observed a well trained and experienced health and safety consultant will be able to understand why people behave the way they do towards health and safety. From this stand point a strategy for changing the safety culture can begin to be applied.

Throughout the behavioural safety training it should be kept in mind that for this approach to work, the management should be giving constructive feedback and positively reinforcing actions to staff, it is important to know that communication is the key to success. Staff should not feel that blame for accidents is being put on their behaviour, but should understand the health and safety of the entire workforce depends on the actions of the individual. By working together and tackling health and safety issues as a team, the culture towards health and safety can begin to be changed. The workplace culture is often the biggest factor in behaviours and attitudes in the work place. As we said at the start of this article behavioural safety should not be implemented as a one stop strategy. Ensuring a safe working environment is still vital but behavioural safety training should be considered as a useful tool in limiting accidents.

Vita Safety – Ian Hutchings, Managing Director

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