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Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ's

People tend to ask very similar questions about Behavioral Safety when considering whether or not is is right for their company. The following attempts to address these so you may be better informed when you read other material about the topic.

What is Behavioral Safety (or Behavior-Based Safety)?
Behavioral Safety is ‘A process that creates a safety partnership between the workforce and management that continually focuses everyone’s attention and actions on their own and others daily safety behavior’.

Is Behavioral Safety effective?
Behavioral Safety Research shows that interventions can reduce incidents by 30% or more per annum. Well designed and executed processes can also provide Returns on Investment of $1.7 million per 200,000 hours worked. Conversely, badly designed and executed processes can cost a company as much as $2 million per 200,000 hours worked. This indicates, Behavioral Safety is effective only if the process is based on best practice, which itself is based on sound scientific research.

What will make Behavioral Safety successful?
In sum, everyone’s full and willing involvement and a high concern to 'make a difference', aligned with an optimally designed process to suit an individual company. Simply adopting / copying someone else's process, or going through the motions, does not guarantee results!

Does Behavioral Safety replace other safety processes?
NO! Why should it? Behavioral Safety complements your existing efforts, it does not replace them (see survey results). The unique feature of Behavioral Safety is its focus on the interaction between people's behavior and the working environment, to assist in eliminating the final common pathway to an incident. As such it can help to identify improvements in other safety arenas (e.g. PPE stock levels in the stores) but it cannot replace them as each part of a safety management system focuses on other unique aspects related to a company's operational processes (e.g. Management of Change, Maintenance, etc).

How do you know you are ready for Behavioral Safety?
In short, your company is prepared to engage in the activities outlined below! Readiness refers to your company 'Wanting to implement Behavioral Safety and being willing to do whatever it takes to make it work'. Behavioral Safety Readiness can be complex, but specific issues can be readily identified through a Safety Culture Survey and/or a Readiness Assessment. In principle, readiness means both managers and employees are willing to become fully involved, that the necessary time and resources will be forthcoming, and that 'corrective actions' will be attended to in a timely manner.

How can your company get ready for Behavioral Safety?
Addressing the issues identified from a Readiness Assessment is a 'sure fired' way of getting ready for the introduction of Behavioral Safety. If this route is not for you, then training managers in safety leadership skills can help, as well as attending to issues reported by the workforce or identified from Safety Management System audits, Risk Assessments or Job Safety Analyses, or from your Incident History. One way to get ready is to invite the participation of a Journey Partner who can work with your Executive Leadership Team to facilitate Behavioral Strategies.

What's involved in Behavioral Safety?
The development of a Behavioral Safety process typically follows a simple management model based on Demings 'Plan-Do-Act-Check' cycle. First, you need to Clarify the objectives - What is it you are trying to achieve? A reduction in incidents is the typical reaction, but some just want more employee involvement or better safety leadership and so on. Whatever it is, clarifying the objectives helps to develop the strategy required to deliver. Decisions can then be made about the scope of the process, who to involve and train as project team members, and how you’re going to publicize its introduction. The next step is to 'Locate the problems'. In other words what are the issues causing you concern? These are usually identified via 'Data-mining' your incident databases. This will reveal if the issues are behavioral in nature or due to management system faults, or poor design and condition of equipment, etc. If the vast majority of issues are related to behavior, then you move to the next stage: Execute the change strategy. In principle this means [1] Identifying the problem safety behaviors; [2] Developing 'Observation Checklists; [3] Educating and training people in their respective roles; [4] Assessing ongoing behavior; and [5] providing limitless feedback. Once up and running, the project team will continually 'Assess current progress'. In essence this means ensuring your process is delivering as intended and that improvements are sustainable. Periodically, it is wise to 'Review and adapt' the process to suit changing circumstances.

How are Leadership and Management involved?
Usually the introduction of Behavioral Safety is triggered and sanctioned by the Executive Leadership Team (ELT). As hard-nosed businessmen they must be convinced that Behavioral Safety will deliver on its promises. Part of this 'sale' specifies all managerial levels must become better 'Safety Leaders' by engaging with employees on safety matters, driving through any cost-effective 'corrective actions' shown to be important to improving safety performance, and providing the necessary resources for the Behavioral Safety process to thrive. The ELT holds all managers accountable for their involvement via 'Safety Leadership' checklists, while also delegating responsibility for the 'day-to-day' management of the Behavioral Safety process to the workforce. The ELT also demand a monthly summary of progress statistics so they can 'keep their fingers on the pulse' of the process to know it is delivering as intended, and periodically seek independent reviews.

How are employees involved?
Behavioral Safety processes rely on employee ownership and involvement. In practice this means some employees form part of a project team to design and drive the process, analyze incident databases to identify 'repeat' unsafe behaviors, draw up 'draft' observation checklists, train observers, enter observations into software, analyze data and tabulate feedback data to employees and managers. Everybody should be involved in 'agreeing' to the behaviors on the draft observation checklists for their job function, location or shift. Other employees will become trained in observation, communication and coaching skills so they can observe and record their colleague’s safety behavior. Those being observed can make suggestions about how to make their job safer.

It is important to understand that the process should not be aimed solely at 'blue-collar' workers. Employees in company support functions such as Human Resources (HR), Finance, Procurement, Engineering, etc., all have a part to play. These latter functions are involved in approximately 40 percent of all incidents!

What are the main Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)?
Good Behavioral Safety processes focus on both leading and lagging indicators.

Typical leading indicators might include [1] the 'Percent Safe Score' which provides information about how safely people are working on average; [2] 'Corrective Action Rates', which provide information on how many corrective actions are being completed and how quickly; [3] the number of people trained as 'observers' out of the number available (i.e. the Participation Rate); [4} How many observations are being completed (i.e. the Observation Rate); [5] The 'Percent Safety Leadership Score' which provides information about how well managers at all levels are supporting the process and safety in general; and [6] the "Visible Ongoing Support Score', which provides an indicator of the amount of support received from managers by employee observers.

Lagging indicators typically include Lost-time and Recordable Incident Rates, the number of 'first-aid and 'near-miss' reports, Workers Compensation Costs, and in some cases incident costs to facilitate cost/benefit ratio calculations.

How do you know you have an optimally designed and sustainable process?
Benchmarking your process against best practice can help you identify opportunities for change to fully optimize your Return on Investment. Alarm signals for a Benchmark Review include a rising or static incident rate, minimal or falling participation, observation or safety leadership support rates, rising Worker Compensation Costs, etc.. Alternatively, there may just simply be a desire to know your process is 'firing on all cylinders ‘and is in the world-class range.

What is the life expectancy of a Behavior Based Safety process?
Some Behavioral Safety processes have lasted more than thirty years. Others have fallen over in the first year! The answer lies in your hands. You have to ask yourself, "How long do you want it to last?". If your process is delivering, your company will be convinced of its value and sustain it. If not, then...... you need to examine your process to see why it is not delivering on its promises.

Is it possible to develop our own process?
Yes. An industry survey shows around 51 percent of companies have developed their own process! However, only around 30 percent of these were successful in achieving their objectives. Thus, it may be wise to seek professional help if you have never been involved in developing a Behavioral Safety process before: A professional advisor can help you avoid the pitfalls and get your process up and running much more quickly. Remember, a badly designed and executed process can cost your company an awful lot of money!