Behavioural Based Safety (BBS) – What’s it all About?

Behavioural Based Safety (BBS) – What’s it all About?

07th November 2016

Over the past few weeks we’ve been taking a look at Behavioural Safety – issues for employers to take into account, whether or not your construction company would benefit from it and why workers take the risks that they do in an industry that’s already risky enough by anybody’s standards.  We all know that the construction sector is responsible for some of the highest stats when it comes to serious injuries and deaths – it’s a risky business by its very nature.  When you take into account the amount of roofing work that’s done during construction projects and the need to use access equipment like ladders, scaffolding and work platforms, this adds an extra element of danger that means there’s no room for mistakes when it comes to construction.  Today we’re going to take a look at what Behavioural Safety actually is.

Behavioural Safety is the term that came about to describe Applied Behaviour Analysis.  Behaviour Analysis is simply the scientific study of behaviour with the objective of discovering principles and laws that govern people’s behaviour.  Applied Behaviour Analysis is the application of the principles and laws discovered by the science to problems of working and living in order to increase the effectiveness of individuals, groups, companies and governments.  The method used to discover these effective practices is the scientific method, a process that involves the following steps:

·         Identifying a problem and collecting objective data

·         Developing hypotheses

·         Testing those hypotheses by controlled experimentation

·         Drawing conclusions from the findings

·         Applying the findings to test the hypotheses in similar situations

All of the steps involved must be repeatable so that they can be depended upon to predict future results.  All procedures and data gathered must be fully documented so that other scientists can repeat the results using the same processes and avoid biased interpretation of results.

Behaviour based safety is the application of the science of applied behaviour analysis to issues of safety in the workplace.  The issues will include every employee from the front-line staff to members of the Board and will involve equipment, architecture, management systems, work processes and management, and employee behaviour.  The implementation of behaviour based safety programme in the workplace can be used to continuously improve safety and lead to a reduction in the number of incidents and accidents.

According to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there have been significant improvements in recent years in engineering and safety management systems.  However, despite those advances, major accidents still occur due to failures and behavioural interventions alone will not address this.  Companies considering implementing a behavioural safety programme need to take a balanced approach between personal safety and major accident safety when considering whether or not to adopt such a programme. 

In order for any system or programme to be effective, the corporate culture must also be taken into account.  What works for one company may not work for a similar company with a different culture.  The original basic concepts of Behavioural Based Safety (BBS) include pointing out to employees how they contribute to a safe working environment by letting them know when they are performing safely and unsafely.  All employees will need to take an active thinking role in their own personal safety and that of others in order to improve the safety process in any organisation.