A popular style of implementing workplace safety standards is behavioural based safety. The motivating concept for the worker is to protect yourself while working, so you can reap the rewards of your labor.
Protecting one's self is not a new idea, for years precautions have been taken to avoid injuries while working. Armour used by knights was a sort of precursor for what is used on the job site today. The gallant knights of yore didn't just want to be alive at the end of the day, they wanted to have the continued use of all of their facilities, and enjoy the fruits of their labor to the fullest.
How can we best apply the concepts of a behavioural based safety program? This system is derived from seven basic principles.
  • Intervention: focus on the behaviours of employees, and determine how to improve these behaviours.
  • Identify what can be applied externally to improve the behaviours to achieve your desired effect.
  • Use interventions to create new behaviours. For example if eye safety is your goal, hang signs, update worn down signs, have employees read and sign a statement that highlights eye safety hazards and preventative methods.
  • Focus on how applying your desired methods will benefit the user at the end of the day.
  • Reinforce interventions to wherever possible in appropriate areas. Don't have just one area where eye protection is available, make it available at multiple entrances.
  • Use theories to inform. Don't limit information, spread the word with signage, and reaffirm safety at appropriate meetings. Implement monthly quizzes and testing and reward with a point system that leads employees to a goal they can strive towards.
  • Intervene with employees. Discuss and learn about their feelings about how effective a plan is for them, and how to improve it going forward. Planned safety meetings and reviews are ideal times to start.

Everyday Application

Putting this on paper is fine, but how can it be used in real life? By taking these principles and summarizing them with the ABC practices, we can clearly see its potential impact.

A precede B. B create C.

A= Activators precede, B= behaviour. Behaviours create, C= consequences, Positive or negative regardless.

Our Scenario

Our safety manager sees an increase in accidents around the upper facial area of some employees. She identifies this as an area for improvement. Splashing and debris alike are having an impact on workplace production. Most of the accidents are classified as near misses. One incident though requires emergency attention beyond simple first aid. The employee is treated and returns to work the following day. The safety manager has decided to positively impact eye safety and its awareness for all.

First she applies an activator, signs, she places more signs indicating that the required PPE (personal protective equipment) is available and needs to be worn with regularity. She replaces worn out signs, and instructs for this topic to be discussed at the beginning of each shift by supervisors.

Behaviours change. Everyone feels comfortable wearing the proper equipment. With up to date signage people understand that this isn't an old policy, but an ongoing policy that everyone is serious about. Because it is more abundantly available, and it is now posted at every entrance it actually gets used more. When they have their monthly safety meeting some people inform the safety manager that some PPE is getting worn out and needs to be replaced. When these replacements are refilled, the team knows that the company is serious and will act upon the suggestions they reported.
Finally, consequences. The safety manager with support from upper management posts a board that employees can contribute to with pictures of their family. The team loves it because it reminds them of why they work, and what they have to look forward to at the end of the day. The board is posted in the breakroom, and it helps everyone remember that there are more faces behind the faces we see every day. Everyone understands that if we practice unsafe habits, some people may not go home in one piece, but if we practice safe habits, we can go home to the ones we love.
Applying these techniques, and tailoring them to your unique workplace situations should help raise awareness and build a team like atmosphere for the continued progression of a safe work environment.