Saturday, June 03, 2023
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BBS Cultural Mapping

One of the most significant criticisms of traditional Behaviour Based 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.


So where did 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 BBS proponents "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.

blameAnother 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 BBS - 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. TransformationalSafety.Com 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?

MaslowsEngagementTransformationalSafety.Com is uniquely situated to analyse your current behavioural safety program against the engagement developed from the thinking of Abraham Maslow. We do this by also aligning specific behavioural interventions against the A-B-C framework so well described by the UK Health & Safety Executive. By ensuring that any current behavioural programs are suitably aligned and balanced, you increase the likelihood that the BBS Program will work. What I can assure you is that if you fail to recognize the cultural foundations in which your BBS interventions are placed, then you can guarantee that any gains that might be made, shall not be sustainable in the medium to longer term. In other words your BBS program shall fail. Not only that, the outcome for the business of yet another failed safety program could add a level of toxicity within the business that had not been experienced before. Sometimes it is better to actually do nothing, than do something badly and fail - worth a thought?


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globeThe World of Safety is truly becoming a smaller place. We regularly provide our unique and powerful safety services to clients throughout the global safety community. We look forward to serving you...


Thirty two years since Bhopal, thirty years since Chernobyl, twenty eight since Piper Alpha and what have we learned? 

Not much. After all, we have seen Texas City, Macondo, the Soma mine collapse, the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, and the list just goes on - all in the last ten years or so. Clearly what we have been doing has not been working. 


The time has come to take some real responsibility, and put some science back into safety. The time has come to transform your safety culture. The cost of not doing anything shall be further death and injury.

Just a few businesses we have supported


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essar BMA Fosbel Goldfields Vesuvius
TWS Amcor Murry and Roberts Foseco Saudi Aramco
Rio Tinto Ambos Vale bhp logo Shell
Telstra Masterfoods    QBE Duke  GlobalHSE