Promoting safe behavior in the workplace is a key element in safety management, as well as building and maintaining a positive safety culture within the organization. It’s through behavior-based safety that comprehensive systems and procedures will be applied effectively and turned into reality. No matter how good your safety policies are on paper, as long as they’re not reinforced by proactive employee involvement, they will only have limited success.
It’s widely accepted that an effective risk management and control program will depend, in large part, on the individuals’ behavior at all levels within the organization. Good systems and procedures are not enough on their own. It depends on how the company will put these systems into practice. As such, behavioral safety techniques will help improve health and safety by discouraging unsafe behavior and promoting a self-sustaining culture of safety.
What Is Behavior-Based Safety?
Behavior-based safety (BBS) can be defined as a process of building a strong partnership between workers and supervisors in an attempt to promote safety in the workplace. It does so by placing a strong emphasis on staff members’ actions and behaviors. Whether it’s about always wearing protective equipment when entering the facility or following strict protocols when handling certain equipment, every member of the team has a part to play in an all-encompassing safe work environment.
A company culture that promotes behavior-based safety is not only focusing on its employees’ attention to their actions but also involves a proactive studying and measuring of risky and unsafe behavior. It should also provide observational data on how to encourage change in the workplace. This structured technique will ensure the health and safety of the workforce, as well as provide long-term benefits.
One study conducted by the Center for Behavioral Safety deduced that behavioral safety can greatly increase productivity levels within an organization. The study was conducted on a manufacturing facility with roughly 400 employees. The study noted that the average number of workdays lost due to workplace injuries in any given month were at around 10.9 days. When a comprehensive behavior-based safety program was introduced, that number dropped to around 1.5 days per month. So, not only did the program manage to increase the occupational safety and health of the employees but also increase the productivity of the entire organization.
Setting the Groundwork For a Successful Behavior-Based Safety Program
When implemented correctly, a BBS program can generate a tremendously positive change and help build a strong safety culture within the company. To do so, however, businesses will need to:
- Observe Employee Habits and Behaviors – During the initial stage, supervisors will need to gather data about their employees’ habits. They do so in order to understand the ins and outs of all work-related safety issues that may exist. This will include analyzing both safe and unsafe behaviors in order to pinpoint all trends and opportunities for improvement.
- Analyze the Information – After collecting all the relevant data, supervisors will need to analyze it to determine which habits and behaviors need to be adjusted to promote more safety in the workplace.
- Generate Solutions – Once problem areas have been identified, it’s crucial that you come up with ways to reduce or eliminate those safety hazards. While there are general best practices for all sorts of different situations, it’s important to keep in mind that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Every working environment is, more or less, unique, meaning that the solutions also need to be specially tailored to that environment. This also means that involving your employees in the decision-making process and allowing them to offer solutions is beneficial. Not only will they be in the best position to do so, but they will also have a greater sense of responsibility for the solutions provided.
- Fit Testing – Just because an idea makes sense on paper, it doesn’t mean that it will also perform in reality. This is where supervisors will test the new safety protocols and solutions on the front lines, making adjustments wherever necessary and encouraging employees to keep to these safe behaviors.
- The Evaluation Stage – The final step of an effective behavior-based safety program is to run through the entire safety checklist to determine if the desired change has been completely implemented and if it is, in fact, effective.
The Importance of Safety Leadership
While everyone within the company needs to take a proactive approach towards health and safety in an attempt at reducing workplace injury, it’s important to keep in mind that safety always starts at the top. Unless your employees see their leaders being invested in promoting a safety culture, it’s very rare that they will feel compelled to adhere to any safety protocols that you may put in place. Therefore, it’s up to the managers and supervisors to implement and uphold an effective safety and health program, as well as ensure that the right information will be communicated to the rest of the staff.
Employees will be more likely to keep the workplace safe and even go one step beyond in promoting safety and identifying any other health hazards. This is particularly true if they receive the necessary safety training that helps them become more aware and accountable of their own actions and behaviors. This change in employee attitude is the foundation for a strong and positive safety culture.
Effective Safety Tips for Managers and Employees
As previously mentioned, both employees and managers are responsible for the safety of their working environment. While it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide the necessary safety training and equipment, employees must also do their part and abide by certain rules to protect themselves and their colleagues from injuries, illness, or other accidents.
When it comes to managers and supervisors, they need to:
- Assign safety tasks to their staff and take feasible precautions that will protect their workers from injury and illness.
- Ensure timely maintenance of equipment and a clean working environment.
- Regularly communicate with their workers about occupational safety hazards, OSHA regulations, and other ways of improving safety in the workplace.
- Regularly training employees and providing the necessary material to inform the staff about potential hazards.
- Offer complete supervision to ensure all equipment is used safely and that safety gear is used whenever it’s needed.
When it comes to the employees, they need to:
- Always wear protective equipment when working around potential job hazards.
- Keep their workstations clean and put away their equipment in its designated locations.
- Follow a safety checklist and ensure that all safety protocols have been performed for every critical task.
- Not be afraid to ask questions, if needed, about certain safety procedures.
- Request safety training and resources in order to increase workplace safety.
Other Easy Ways to Improve Your Company’s Safety Culture
Aside from implementing a comprehensive behavior-based safety program, there are also some additional tips that can help improve its success. Among these, we can include the following:
- Training Employees – A comprehensive safety training program for your employees will go a long way in ensuring that your employees are aware of the hazards in the workplace, OSHA regulations, and how to proactively minimize the risk of injuries, illness, and other accidents.
- Reward Safe Behaviors – Rewards are an excellent way to encourage and promote safety behavior. Even something as small as a pat on the back or a sincere handshake can go a long way in keeping your employees engaged in reducing workplace injuries.
- Promote Cleanliness – Even though it may seem obvious, clean workspaces are not that common. And as most of us know, a messy workspace can be a huge job hazard. Conduct regular inspections to check for any potential dangers as a result of a disorganized working environment. Tangled cords, dirty floors, haphazardly-placed tools, and poorly stacked boxes, among many others, can pose a serious injury risk.
- Encourage Stretching Breaks – Regardless of your industry, regular stretching breaks will help your staff keep themselves safe and healthy. Not only that, but they will also act as a subconscious reminder about the importance of safety in the workplace.
- Keep Lines of Communication Open – While a safety meeting now and again will help keep health and safety top of mind, it’s also important for your employees to feel comfortable when bringing up issues or concerns. By keeping an open dialogue about daily safety in the workplace and best practices for injury prevention, your staff will be more proactive in building and maintaining your safety culture.
If you want to promote safe behavior at work, you need to foster an environment where people feel comfortable in expressing their opinions. They also need to see their managers lead by example. In this way, you will build an atmosphere of trust in your company that will lead to improved safety and productivity. We help achieve these goals by offering high-quality training in leadership skills. Email [email protected] or call (775) 843-8318. Let’s talk about a training course that best suits your organization and employees.