Water Well Journal

February 2021

Water Well Journal

Issue link: https://read.dmtmag.com/i/1330849

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Page 35 of 59

T here were more than 5000 fatal work injuries and nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries in 2017. The sur- face causes of these incidents are usually obvious—but will not typically stop the incident from happening again. The best way to prevent an incident from repeating itself is to incorporate behavior-based safety (BBS), which examines the overall safety of the workplace. Its aim is to focus atten- tion on the everyday behaviors of the workers. BBS works to determine the root causes of unsafe behaviors and the best route to improve them. Safety managers are always looking for ways to reduce risk, take preventive action against potential hazards and in- cidents, and improve their company's overall safety culture. BBS is an effective tool to achieve all these goals. Core Behavior-Based Safety In its simplest form, BBS is a method of avoiding human error and improving workplace safety by observing and ana- lyzing employees' behavior while they are working. First off, BBS isn't about blaming the employee for safety mishaps. It is about positively reinforcing safe behaviors while providing corrective feedback when risky behaviors are observed. The guiding principle of behavioral safety is helping em- ployees perform a job safely as the product or end result of a series of safe behaviors. BBS helps determine why at-risk behavior occurs on the job and what steps are necessary to change at-risk behavior into safe behavior. Behavior-based safety acknowledges that employees often work in less-than-perfect conditions and are sometimes forced to make choices between working safely or taking unsafe shortcuts. To combat this, BBS looks at the interaction be- tween three major variables in the workplace: the person, the work environment, and the behavior. • "Person" represents the general experience and the physical capabilities of employees. • "Work environment" is the controls, workplace, and general company culture. • "Behavior" is how employees interact with their work- place and how they act while doing their duties. When one of these elements is ignored or neglected, unsafe incidents are more likely to occur. The behavior-based safety method uses materials and ac- tivities to encourage safe behavior. For example, safety signs, training sessions, safety rules and policies, and safety meet- ings—are all tools that can be put to good use in building a behavioral safety framework. It Takes the Whole Team There must also be a company-wide desire to implement a BBS program. Without open communication and a shared interest, it is likely that employees will feel the program is just "another directive" from management. On the other hand, if management does not believe a BBS program will be suc- cessful, there would be no reason to take employee feedback seriously. Because behavior-based safety involves all levels of the company, it puts the responsibility for safety on everyone, not just one person, one safety manager, or one team. Everyone working together to create a safer workplace makes safety policies feel like a collaboration, which in turn makes employ- ees more likely to follow them. It also creates a culture that zeroes in on safe behaviors. With a BBS program in place, new hires will see safety as part of their training and initial impressions, rather than something put off to learn later. Implementing a Successful Behavior-Based Safety Program Behavior-based safety uses observation to determine whether actions are safe or unsafe, and it uses positive or cor- rective feedback on performance to reinforce safe behavior and change unsafe behavior. There are four major components that make up a successful behavior-based safety program: • Observation • Checklist • Feedback • Goals. Observation Because behavior-based safety is about correcting unsafe behavior before it causes an incident, observing how em- ployees do their assigned jobs is the first step. Observers are usually employees who have received training in conducting on-site safety reviews, experienced in the tasks they are ob- serving, and respected by their co-workers. Observation periods should be announced to employees ahead of time so they are not perceived as a trap. When putting BBS into action in the workplace, it's im- portant that safety managers properly select and observe employee behavior. Behaviors selected for observation should be: • Observable (can be seen or heard) • Reliable (seen the same way by two or more people) SAFETY MATTERS THE BENEFITS OF BEHAVIOR-BASED SAFETY Companies can achieve their goals by applying this effective tool. waterwelljournal.com 34 n February 2021 WWJ ALEXANDRA WALSH

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