What Is Behavior-Based Safety?
Why Behavior-Based Safety Matters
Using Behavior-Based Safety to Eliminate Hazards and Prevent Injuries
Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Section 5(a)(1), General Duty Clause
American National Standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (ANSI) Z10-2012
Define behavior-Based Safety and its key terms
Describe why a behavior-based safety program matters to both employees and companies
Identify methods and tools used to eliminate hazards and prevent injuries on the job
Identify the steps involved in a behavior-based safety program
4,000 workers die on the job each year, while 50,000 more pass away from occupational illnesses.
LABOR STATISTICS, OSHA
Safety is a choice. Let’s explore that idea a little further. Safety is a series of choices made by workers each day, choices involving behaviors in the workplace. It’s in how you train, what precautions you take when performing tasks, and your level of awareness to external factors that may jeopardize your well-being. You might say that ‘safety’ is in how you confront the sum total of different considerations with the potential for negatively impacting personal health.
There are three factors that influence personal safety choices: the ability to recognize hazards and evaluate risk, the motivation to be safe, and the ability to focus while performing the current task safely.
Behavior Based Safety is a program designed to influence employee actions toward safer outcomes, ideally by preventing an accident or injury before it occurs. Implementing a behavior based safety program is the most comprehensive way for companies to promote safety, eliminate hazards and prevent injuries.
When implemented correctly, a behavior based safety program can provide positive rewards to change unsafe behavior, reduce job-related injuries, minimize lost production hours, and improve workplace morale—essential ingredients for creating a strong safety culture. Behavior Based Safety matters because upwards of 80% of all accidents occur due to the choices we make and how we act—that is, our behavior. Safety is to a great extent under our own control. Unsafe acts, rather than unsafe conditions, are the root cause of most incidents.
Accidents and injuries have, first, a human cost, so it is advantageous for employees to practice safe behaviors in the workplace. It is the human impact—personal injury, loss of livelihood, the wellbeing of others—which brings us cause for concern about behavioral choices in the workplace.
But unsafe behavior also affects a business’s financial bottom line. Whether it’s a minor cut requiring stitches or a broken back, if the injury happens at work, employers are impacted. Poor safety performance makes it tougher for businesses to remain competitive in the marketplace. Businesses are impacted in additional ways when their workers become injured or ill. Lost productivity is the most commonly cited indirect cost of systemic safety failure.
So, the absence of safe working conditions can create significant additional costs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 there were over 1 million cases of non-fatal occupational events requiring days away from work, with a median average absence of 9 days.
Striving to make the workplace safer by eliminating hazards and preventing injuries requires a partnership between the company and its employees. For a company, its safety culture has the greatest impact on this partnership. Companies with the best safety records have a strong safety culture. For employees, motivation has the greatest influence on the worker-employer safety partnership. To succeed, the employee must feel that the employer really cares about their well-being, and the employer must feel that the worker is committed to the company’s safety expectations.
Training prepares you to identify unsafe behaviors and actions, and then make good decisions to work safely. The challenge is to deliver training that is memorable and relevant. The training that “sticks” will keep you safe.