Behavior-Based Safety Can Reduce Workplace Accidents

By Page Durocher

HSE Manager, Oil States Industries Inc.

When someone gets hurt or property gets damaged, it’s easy to look into the situation and determine what happened and what can be done to prevent it in the future. But do we need to wait for someone to start bleeding in order to make a determination on how we can make the workplace safer? The answer is no, and this is how Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) can play a critical role in improving the safety of our workplace.

Realizing that almost 98 percent of all incidents occur because of unsafe behaviors, BBS gives us an opportunity to improve workplace safety performance before an incident even happens. It is important to note that we don’t do this with discipline or finger-pointing, but rather just increasing the awareness and education of each employee toward these less-than-safe behavioral trends.

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After education on proper observation techniques, employees are encouraged to go out into the facility and openly observe the behaviors of other employees as they perform their tasks.

These behaviors are recorded on an observation form along with comments, and turned in for input into a database system, which is then analyzed for behavioral trends. The observers are required to provide positive feedback to the observed employees and make suggestions on how the task can be performed more safely, or just congratulate them on a job well done.

After analyzing the observation data, we can then determine what behaviors or situations exist in our workplace that may lead to an employee getting injured on the job. We then focus our efforts on educating our workforce about these at risk behaviors and increase their ability to perform their tasks safely and successfully.

A robust BBS process enables us to avoid many situations that could result in an employee getting injured, but it must be constantly promoted and supported by all. Those committed to this process have the opportunity to look into the future of their workplace safety performance and prevent injuries before they even begin to happen.