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First, BBS is based on the general principle that behavior causes the majority of accidents, but this does not excuse employers from providing a safely engineered workplace with all controls in place to prevent the occurrence of incidents. Second, accountability inspires behavior, and accountability facilitates accomplishments. Third, feedback that fosters good communications is the key to continuous improvement, and excellence in safety needs to be established as the underlying culture desired in the organization or company.

These premises are driven by the following strategies:

  • • Obtaining of objective evidence of at-risk behaviors
  • • Defining barriers to safe behavior
  • • Teaching ways to substitute safe behavior for at-risk practices
  • • Holding employees accountable for improving their safety-related behaviors and helping others do the same
  • • Demonstrating the effectiveness by measurement that garners continued management support

BBS is used to increase safety awareness and to decrease accidents/incidents, by focusing on identification and elimination of unsafe behaviors. Workers are trained to conduct safety observation and give guidance on specific behaviors while collecting the information in a readily available format for providing immediate feedback. Observations are structured to have minimal impact on the workload, and data are shared with the entire workforce.

For such an approach to be successful, a good organizational safety culture and people's participation and involvement are required. Since real-time safety analysis is an integral part of BBS using operational personnel involvement to identify hazards and risks that are the key to effective BBS, the behavior-based process allows an organization or company to create and maintain a positive safety culture that continually reinforces safe behaviors over unsafe behaviors, which ultimately results in a reduction of risk.

The organization or company's purpose must be to continuously improve with the ultimate goal being a workplace that is free of injuries and illnesses. While attitudes are not addressed directly, it is a deep-seated intention to have employees accept safety as a value over time.

Further Readings

Federal Aviation Administration, System Safety Handbook, Chapter 3. Washington, DC: FAA, 2000. Geller, E.S. The Psychology of Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Lewis Publishers, 2001. Heinrich, H.W. Industrial Accident Prevention: A Scientific Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1959. Swartz, G. (Editor). Safety Culture and Effective Safety Management. Itasca, IL: National Safety Council, 2000.

Wieneke, R.E., J.J. Balkey, and J.F. Kleinsteuber. Success in Behavior-Based Safety at Los Alamos National Laboratory's Plutonium Facility. Los Alamos, NM: Los Alamos National Laboratory, 2002.

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