Behavior Based Safety (BBS) is the "application of science of behavior change to real world problems". BBS "focuses on what people do, analyzes why they do it, and then applies a research-supported intervention strategy to improve what people do". At its very core BBS is based on a larger scientific field called Organizational behavior management.
To be successful a BBS program must include all employees, from the CEO to the floor associates. To achieve changes in behavior, a change in policy, procedures and/or systems most assuredly will also need some change. Those changes cannot be done without buy-in and support from all involved in making those decisions.
A good BBS program will consist of:
- Common goals – Both employee and managerial involvement in the process
- Definition of what is expected – Specifications of target behaviors derived from safety assessments
- Observational data collection
- Decisions about how best to proceed based on those data
- Feedback to associates being observed
Behavior-based safety is a topic that has been around for a long time. A predecessor was the Safety First movement started in 1906 by U.S. Steel. It soon spread to other industries in the US and Europe. This approach saw unsafe behavior of workers as the primary cause of accidents.
BBS originated with the work of Herbert William Heinrich. 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, he classified 73% 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.
Heinrich's data does not tell why the person did what they did to cause the accident, just that an accident occurred. BBS programs delve into the acts that cause the accident. It delves into the workplace; environment, equipment, procedures and attitudes.
Basic Organizational Behavior Analysis is what is used to identify the actions that put the associate in the risk position. Organizational Behavior Analysis has been done for 100 years. Directing the applied research to an organizational application specifically to safety has been going on for around 20 years.
Heinrich published work describing the results that he derived by evaluating the accidents from an extensive data base compiled by the insurance industry. He came to the conclusion that roughly 90% of all incidents are caused by human error. This conclusion became the foundation of what BBS has come to be today. BBS addresses the fact that there are additional reasons for injuries in the workplace: environment, equipment, procedures and attitudes. Behavioral Science Technology (BST), pioneers in applying BBS processes, expanded on this work and identified the "working interface", the point where exposure to injury occurs.
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-  This is how behavioral safety affects workers