BBS Described

BBS is a process used to identify at-risk behaviors that are likely to cause injury to workers and is dependent upon the involvement of workers in this process so that they become willing participants and buy into the concepts and purpose of BBS. They will be asked to observe each other and their coworkers in order to determine if decreases of at-risk behavior have resulted in a reduction in these unsafe behaviors. This is a very simplistic description of BBS. Although there are an infinite number of variations to BBS programs, they all share common characteristics.

These are as follows:

  • • Identifying critical at-risk behaviors
  • • Gathering data and information
  • • Encouraging two-way feedback
  • • Stimulating continuous improvement

The most common barriers to safe performance must be addressed, or this is why a BBS program will fail. Some of these barriers are as follows:

• Hazard recognition: If workers did not realize that they were performing an at-risk behavior, then they could never perform the task in a safe manner.

  • • Business systems: The at-risk behavior was the result of an organization system that was unreliable due to inefficiency. If this occurs, workers will avoid using the system; they will find way around it.
  • • Disagreement on safe practices: There can be legitimate disagreement as to what constitutes safe performance, and this needs to be reviewed and addressed in some manner. This is best accomplished by working toward an agreed-upon consensus.
  • • Culture: The way that it was always done may be at odds with what is a safe practice. It is hard to teach old dogs new tricks.
  • • Inappropriate rewards: Rewards for achieving production may be at odds with safety and reinforce that at-risk shortcuts are more of a benefit than safe performance.
  • • Facilities and equipment: Outdated facilities or processes and rigged, missing, or damaged equipment may cause workers to act in an unsafe manner.
  • • Personal factors: This is when the at-risk behavior stems from personal characteristics of the worker that lead to him/her deliberately taking risks or refusing to work safely as a result of factors such as fatigue, medication, stress, or illness.
  • • Personal choice: A worker with adequate skill, knowledge, and resources chooses to work at risk to save time, effort, or something similar.

A successful approach is able to remove these barriers by observing and talking with employees and must not, in any manner, imply that the workers are the problem. It is important that the workers are viewed as the solution.

The idea that consequences control behavior is the foundation conceptually to BBS. Thus, the majority of behaviors rely on applying previous experience of consequences (both negative and positive) as the reinforcing factor. A picture of an amputated finger portrays visually the consequences of at-risk behavior, and this reminder of a negative consequence may be enough to cause a worker to alter his/her behavior prior to a similar incident.

Even though the previous barriers are addressed, there are no guarantees that BBS will work in your situation, but the principles are applicable to any situation when designed and implemented to meet businesses' or companies' needs.

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