Behavioural Safety Programmes – Is it Right for your Construction Company?

Behavioural Safety Programmes – Is it Right for your Construction Company?

17th October 2016

Adopting a behavioural safety programme is a great way for construction company owners and managers to improve safety performance in the workplace with a process that identifies and reinforces safe behaviour and reduces unsafe behaviour.  Following research conducted during the 1970s, a behaviour based safety approach has emerged and is now widely used in a variety of sectors here in the UK.  Today we’re going to take a look at some of the questions you should consider before implementing a behavioural safety programme.  Answering “yes” to the following questions may mean that your company is ready to adopt a behavioural safety programme that could address behavioural safety and benefit your business, both in terms of improved productivity, staff development and, most importantly, a reduction in the number of incidents at work.

  • Are a significant number of accidents and incidents caused by the behaviour of employees?
  • Do most of your employees and managers want to reduce the number of accidents or incidents that are caused by employee behaviour?
  • Does your business have the necessary resources for the behavioural safety process (in terms of time for training and observations)?
  • Will managers be agreeable to employees becoming more involved in health and safety?
  • Do managers and employees have a good working relationship involving trust?
  • Do managers accept their role in health and safety management?
  • Is the physical environment in the workplace well controlled?

Although behavioural safety programmes can make a significant contribution in improving health and safety in the workplace, you may face some problems in introducing such a programme.  These problems may come from the workforce or from management and include: – these may include:

On the management side:

  • Not enough support from management for this type of initiative.
  • Organisational changes that could lead to lower morale and loss of key workers.
  • Expectations of a “quick fix” which can result in a loss of commitment if improvements are not seen immediately.
  • Inconsistent behaviour from managers when enforcing the agreed rules and safety behaviours.

On the workforce side:

  • Seeing the programme as an initiative that won’t last.
  • Issues about ‘spying’ on colleagues.
  • Concerns that workers will be blamed for accidents or incidents.
  • Disagreement over what constitutes safe practice.

You may also be wondering about the suitability of any behavioural safety programme and have concerns about how appropriate it is for your business, including:

  • Inappropriate training materials that do not address the issues faced by your business.
  • Using an “off the shelf” solution that may not suit the culture of your company.
  • Whether or not to involve all supervisors in the process – uninvolvement may lead to some abandoning their responsibility for health and safety.
  • Using the behavioural safety programme to address issues that are not related to safety.
  • Conflicts that may arise with payment and reward schemes.

We’ll be brining you more information in the coming weeks on behavioural safety programmes in order to provide you with all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision on whether this would be the right thing for your business.