Behaviour Based Safety (Bbs) In Organizations

Dr. Sajeev Nair

Senior Vice President and Head Learning and Development GMS

Reliance Industries Limited



A lot of work has been done on the behavior based safety in the organizations to reduce accidents and minimize Lost time Injury in industries but still accidents are happening and most of the accidents are because of human error. Most of the organizations are becoming aware of the importance of transforming organizational culture in order to improve safety. In this paper an attempt has been made to discuss the behavior based safety for improving safety in Industrial sectors.

Introduction to Behavior Based Safety:- Behavior-based safety is a topic that has been around for a long time. BBS originated with the work of Herbert William Heinrich.[8] In the 1930s, Heinrich, who worked for Traveler’s Insurance Company, reviewed thousands of accident reports completed by supervisors and from these drew the conclusion that most accidents, illnesses and injuries in the workplace are directly attributable to “man-failures”, or the unsafe actions of workers. Of the reports Heinrich reviewed, 73% classified the accidents as “man-failures”; Heinrich himself reclassified another 15% into that category, arriving at the still-cited finding that 88% of all accidents, injuries and illnesses are caused by worker errors

• Behavior Based Safety is one of the best and latest safety approaches.

• BBS is a data driven decision-making process.

• BBS is a teamwork; it is companywide, and people driven.

• BBS increases safe behaviors and reduces injuries, illnesses and related financial costs.

• Reflects a proactive approach to safety and health management.

• Reflects a proactive approach to injury prevention. • Focuses on at-risk behaviors that can lead to injury.

Methods and Materials that affects behavioral safety

1. Observation at site The behavior-based safety (BBS) process depends on site observation. Site observation includes individual feedback, which is the most effective act in the BBS process. The observer meets the worker at site and introduces himself and the job he is going to do. There is no sneaking or spying in the process. The observer monitors the worker and notices his safe behaviors. He also monitors the at-risk behaviors the worker is putting himself in. The observer starts his feedback by commending the safe behavior the worker was doing during his work. Then he explains, one-by-one, the at-risk behaviors the worker was doing. Then the observer asks the worker why he was putting himself at risk. For example, if the worker is welding a piece of metal and the sparks are flying in the worker’s direction. The observer would then ask the worker why he was not wearing protective clothing, like a flame-retardant apron. They both discuss the at-risk behaviors until the worker agrees to try the suggested recommendation made by the observer. The worker might be aware of his at-risk behavior or maybe not. The worker may be doing the at-risk behavior for a long time without hurting himself (negative consequences). The observer’s job here is to highlight this behavior, then explain the associated negative consequences with this behavior. The above discussion and agreement is the individual feedback which helps the worker to change his behavior. This feedback is considered as a form of reward since: o The worker got commendable comments on his safe behavior.

o The worker understood his at-risk behavior without being reprimanded at site or reported to his superiors for further penalties.

At the end of the observation, the observer would fill in a checklist with the safe and at-risk behaviors he noticed along with the date, time and location of the observations. The worker’s name or identification number are not noted in the checklist. Part of the checklist can be used to summarize the observation process and the discussion. The worker’s comments and reasons for the at-risk behavior is recorded along with the suggested safe behavior. Recording this interaction is important for a later detailed analysis so feedback can be provided to both workers and management, to help identify the most appropriate corrective actions.

2. Data gathering and preliminary reports Observation checklists are gathered and entered in electronic database. Reports are generated for BBS steering committee to analyze and recommend practical solutions. These reports flag out trends of at-risk behaviors and in which location they are taking place. Ideally, feedback reports are generated and given to the workers themselves in the different locations on a weekly basis.

3. Report analysis and recommendation The steering committee is made up of high-level influential members and chaired by a Management Representative. The committee has periodical meetings to discuss and analyze BBS report findings. The committee then produces a set of recommendations to tackle workers’ behaviors. Some of the recommendations would be as simple as providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to workers in certain locations, or increase work force in another location. Some of the recommendations require site modification or costly machinery. Such recommendations are sent to top managem- ent for necessary approvals.

Implementing the recommendations would change the at-risk behaviors at the targeted location. Also the recommendations would eliminate hazards and risks caused by hardware or wrong design. Committee members devote time and effort to discuss and analyze these reports in periodical meetings. These meetings are counted as part of the management commitment to the behavior process Some important BBS parameters to be referred are mentioned below

1. PPE- Personal Protective Equipment

2. Housekeeping

3. Using right tools and equipment

4. Body positioning / protecting

5. Material handling

6. Communication

7. Following correct procedures

8. Visual focusing


• BBS is collecting observation data on specific behaviors.

• BBS is “Safety for self & others”.

• BBS believes that each employee can make a difference in organizational safety.

• BBS believes that what gets measured gets done.

• BBS is a data driven decision-making process.

• BBS purpose is not to enforce safety rules, force change, gossip about others, reporting to boss.

• Behavior is objective, definable, observable and measurable. Need for BBS

• 90% or more of the accidents are due unsafe human acts or behaviors;

• 50% of the unsafe behaviors are identified or noticeable at any plant at any given point of time;

• 25-30% of safety awareness is lacking among employees which gets reflected in their unsafe behaviors;

• Unsafe behaviors are at the core of any near misses, injury, accidents. If we control unsafe behaviors, we may not even have near misses.


Where should we focus our attention first? Human behavior is both: Observable & Measurable Therefore BEHAVIOUR can be MANAGED! Attitudes: are inside a person’s head Therefore they are not observable or measurable however Attitudes can be changed by changing behaviors.

Reasons why we Focus First on Attitudes

• Most believe that attitude is important

• Attitude has the power to change behavior

• An attitudinal approach appeals to “common sense”

• Therefore, we are tempted to focus on attitudes first. BBS is not ……

• BBS is not punishment or disciplinary action.

• It does not focus on incident rate, or personal prejudice.

• BBS does not substitute or replace process evaluation, incident analysis, or environmental solutions.

• BBS is not a top-driven but bottom- up approach. How to start implementation of BBS?

• BBS success depends upon a strong steering team, which clearly defines its roles and responsibilities.

• Initially BBS can be implemented in one or two departments and then introduce to other departments.


• Enabling Behaviors

• Non-enabling Behaviors

• Difficult Behaviors

What Problems may arise during Implementation of BBS?

• What will I get? The observer may feel that what he would get in return.

• Whether observe will take in right spirit?

• Fear of workers’ buy-in to BBS;

• Taking advantage of BBS – not doing regular work;

• Remove existing unsafe conditions first;

• Integrating BBS with other committees in organization;

• Manpower / extra-time for BBS;

• Huge documentations;

• Interpersonal communication; and

• Launching problem in introducing BBS.

Where BBS started?

• In India and Abroad many corporates have started implementing BBS.

Conclusions on Behavior based safety What Employees want:

• A safe workplace

• A positive Workplace

• To take Care of One Another

• To stop the Hurt! Benefits of BBS to management …… What Management wants:

• An accident free workplace

• Empowered employees

• Pro-active rather than re-active work process

• To minimize direct and indirect costs and threat of liability from accidents.


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