Safety College

Behavioral Safety Cultural Mapping

One of the most significant criticisms of traditional Behavioral Safety (BBS) is that it appears to offer some pretty quick (and sometimes impressive) improvements, yet those improvements are rarely sustained in the medium to longer terms.

Behavioral SafetySo where did Behavioral Safety come from?

Behavioral Safety is a proactive and systematic approach to promote workplace safety. When integrated into your organization’s safety management system, it can significantly reduce accidents and incidents. Embrace BBS, and together, let’s create a safer and healthier work environment for everyone. 

BBS come from. Firstly there was Heinrichs Domino Theory of Accident Causation. As you can see the “unsafe act” sits in the middle of the sequence of events described by Heinrich. Regretfully almost all (if not all) traditional Behavioral Safetyproponents “sell” the approach as starting at “unsafe act” and ignoring Heinrich’s pre-cursors.

In my view this has always been a very deceptive market driven practice that “feeds” the desire or corporations to somewhat “separate” their own contributions etc.

Take a closer look at Heinrich’s actual dominoes. We do need to remember it is couched in the language of the 1930’s. “Ancestry and Social Environment” were big things in those days.

If we were to modernize the language though, it is not much of a stretch to consider (from an organizational) perspective that “Ancestry and Social Environment” might be better though of as the “Safety Culture” percolating throughout the business.

Another common criticism (which should be ignored at your peril) is that many employees also report feeling as though they are being “blamed” for any accidents that might occur. Organizations (and their BBS consultants) keep saying things like “it’s not about blame it’s about responsibility”. What’s the difference. Despite the many different ways of trying to avoid acknowledging these concerns, employees still commonly report that experience.

Now take a look back at Heinrichs 1930’s domino – “Fault of Person”. So it was there all the time? Remember that traditional BBS proponents conveniently leave those dominoes “hidden”. Maybe the reason why is becoming more evident? BTW The International Labour Organization (ILO) is also a global critique of traditional Behavioral Safety – as are many Safety Professionals.

So does all this mean we should ignore “behaviour” as a contributor toward accidents (system failures)? Of course not! To do so would be unbelievably irresponsible. What we truly must do though is recognize the context in which “behaviour” is being played out within our organizations.

Take a closer look at Transformational Safety’s take on Behavioural Safety. Just click here.

Transformational Safety is uniquely able to offer a service we have defined as “BBS Cultural Mapping”.

At the simplest of levels we need to recognize what it is that drives “behaviour” and particularly behavioural change. After all is it not your goal for employees to modify their behaviours toward a more safety aware skill set?

Ensuring you properly assess your organizational readiness for implementing any safety intervention (particulalrly Behavioral Safety), can only be a good thing. The alternative is that you ignore this critical step and your safety intervention actually does the opposite of what was intended. It creates a more dangerous workplace. That’s the very last thing you want to do.

Ricky, Atlanta

“I was fortunate to attend Transformational Safety’s Anatomies of Disaster Program. This was amongst the most powerful two days I have ever spent in a room. From the outset David Broadbent set the scene by dedicating the program to the late Rick Rescorla – the man who is credited with saving over 2700 lives on 9/11. Throughout the two days David would often respectively reflect and remember those who had died, or been injured, in the disasters we explored. He would say, and I will never forget, “…we must always remember those that lost their lives lift us up into the light of understanding”. I learnt so much. HRO, Resilience Engineering, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and more. Those of us who were there are still talking about it…… Thankyou David

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