Keeping workers injury-free and alive is the goal of any quality employer. But exactly how companies and organizations can ensure that workers stay safe is sometimes a challenge. We strongly believe that behavior-based safety, implemented in a strategic way, is the best solution to a safe work environment that not only prevents injuries and fatalities but also prevents the employer from experiencing fines and high insurance rates.
In order for behavior-based safety to be effective, a company or organization needs to have 5 elements in place. We’re going to dig into these 5 elements in a series of posts that will help you make your work environment safer and help you experience the benefits that come from safety.
What Exactly Is Behavior-Based Safety?
Quality Safety Edge defines behavior-based safety as the application of behavioral psychology to promote safe behavior in the workplace using employee involvement. It involves initially identifying practices (behaviors) critical to reducing the risk of injury.
These best practices are then used to create a checklist that employers will use to collect information about the safe—and unsafe—practices that may be happening in the workplace. The data is then analyzed to best determine a plan of action for remedying these issues and implementing a culture of safety for all employees involved.
One of the reasons behavior-based safety is successful is because employees feel like they’re a part of the process. Employers demonstrate that they value employee’s input and experience.
What Are the Benefits of Implementing Behavior-Based Safety?
Aside from creating an environment focused on safety for your employees, there are a few other benefits that come from focusing on safety. We mentioned avoiding OSHA violation fines and lower insurance rates already, but you’ll also reduce worker compensation claim frequency and severity. On average, companies can expect to see about a $3-6 savings in workers compensation claim costs for every $1 spent on behavior-based safety programs.
Behavior-based safety programs have the potential to be extremely successful in a wide variety of high-risk industries, but companies that succeed with BBS share a few essential characteristics. Here’s what you need to establish in your own company to see the greatest success.
1. Effective Leadership
Managers and those in leadership roles who commit to promoting a message of safety and injury prevention to the workers succeed with behavior-based safety. Commitment from leadership is essential when implementing behavior-based safety programs because the work group looks at these individuals as role models within the organization. If these supervisors and managers truly believe in behavior-based safety, the workers will be more likely to buy into the program as well.
2. They’ve Established Basic Safety Processes
For your program to be effective, basic safety processes need to be in place. This includes OSHA compliance, accident investigation, hazard audits, and systems for record keeping. Once the basic systems are in place, you can utilize behavior-based safety to make changes to unsafe practices that will influence the entire organization and get people thinking differently about safety.
3. Make Use of Safety Involvement Teams
Safety involvement teams are used alongside behavior-based safety programs to create employee involvement. It’s important to note that the typical safety committee does not have the skills, time, or vision to manage the behavior-based process. These teams ensure worker involvement and participation in the program, which is key to success. Workers who feel ownership and buy-in are much more likely to cooperate in any program.
4. Positive Organizational Structure
Having a positive work environment is an essential characteristic for any organization trying to implement a behavior-based safety program. If your employees are unhappy with their work environment or feel disrespected by management, their involvement will inherently be lower. The goal is to create a culture where everyone actively cares for the safety of others. This will not only reduce the rate of workplace injuries but facilitates synergy among coworkers.
5. Measurement & Accountability
In the end, to determine if your behavior-based safety program is successful, you need to measure the results. When measuring safety, looking at the injury rate is the standard for determining your program’s success. Some companies also choose to issue safety awards, promotions, and pay increases for individuals as incentives and recognition for a job well done. But, outside of the injury rate, you can measure your program’s success in additional ways—by analyzing the number of behavioral observations, number of employees volunteering for observation, and coaches sessions conducted, to name a few.
Behavior-based safety simply cannot be implemented in a vacuum. It takes leaders who are committed to safety, implementation of basic safety processes, help from specially-trained teams, a positive company culture, and a way to analyze your results.
If you think your company might be struggling in a few of these areas, we’ll be taking a deeper look into each of the characteristics, and how your business can go about developing these characteristics, in upcoming posts.
If you’re looking for help implementing a behavior-based safety program or need help with the development of any of the characteristics listed above, give us a call at 864-905-7835.
CC Image Credit: Tom Barrett