Reasons that we commonly use behavioural safety approaches include: 

  • Significant number of accidents reportedly caused by inappropriate behaviour 
  • Good vehicle for management and workforce participation 
  • Can improve the visibility of managers 
  • Behaviours and actions influence culture through attitudes and perceptions 
  • Behaviours determine the performance of systems 

    Many EHS professionals are turning their backs to behaviour-based safety. Why do you think that is? 

Everything we do is the result of a complex series of decisions based on things that motivate us to act , and the outcomes that reinforce how we’ll behave in the future when faced with similar circumstances (consequences).  

People seeking to change behaviour may focus on the behaviour itself without exploring the circumstances that surround it. Dr. Andrew Sharman suggests, we incorrectly focus on trying to force people to change, without first trying to understand what’s causing them to decide to act that way in the first place.

Opponents of behavioural approaches argue that BBS doesn’t lead to better safety outcomes? Why is this? What do you think traditional BBS programs get wrong? 

Sean Baldry of Cority explains that when BBS programs fail, it’s largely because organisations fail to realise that changing behaviour requires an understanding of what makes people choose to do what they do.  

He urges us to consider what is it that exists in our environment that influences why we choose to act in certain ways?  

Too often, the focus of behavioural safety is too superficial – we spend too much time trying to force people to change behaviour, when they either don’t see a need to, simply don’t want to, or are unable to – often because of the way they know the work needs to be done. 

Understanding all the elements that contribute to peoples’ decision making in the moment requires a more holistic approach. 

What do you think all leaders should know about the relationship between unsafe behaviours and accidents? 

Safety pioneer James Reason suggests that unsafe acts result from either violations or errors committed by an individual. Violations are intentional actions taken either in response to or in anticipation of something. In contrast, errors are unintentional actions or “mistakes” that occur inadvertently and without deliberate thought. 

What tangible things can leaders do to build trust in their workplace? 

Leaders need to show a genuine interest in their people and their work, and really listen to their stories, challenges, and ideas. Leaders should be curious, ask sincere questions, really listen to what’s said, but most importantly, act on it. 

Creating an environment of psychological safety where people feel that their opinions are valued and their ideas are properly considered and acted upon appropriately, instills trust in the system. 

What role does data play in ensuring consistent safe behaviors needed for a strong safety culture? 

Instead of comparing unsafe vs. safe behaviours, we should be leveraging our data, including EHSQ and nonEHSQ, to help give us a perspective of what events are most likely to occur, why and how.  

By identifying these events, we can examine them to identify what behaviors are likely contributing to the event, and most importantly, what system elements could be influencing those behaviours and what we should do about them. 

For more information on any of the above visit Cority’s website.