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November 10, 2014

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Behavioural Safety

Behavioural safety information and resources

Behavioural safety plays a significant role in helping avoid accidents and ill-health at work.

Behavioural safety is the application of behavioural research on human performance to the problems of safety in the workplace.

Behavioural safety is changing unsafe behaviour into safe behaviour

Everybody who works to reduce accidents in the workplace is concerned with human behaviour as, according to the HSE website, up to 80% of accidents are often attributed to human error.‟

Two approaches to behavioural safety

There are two basic approaches to improving the human factors in safety: 1) changing the way people think and feel to change behaviour; or 2) directly address the behaviour to get people to do the right things at the right time. The first is encapsulated in ‘hearts and minds’ campaigns, while behavioural safety processes address the second. Many believe the issue is binary: adopt one or the other.

Which works best? No quantitative evidence is available to show the hearts and minds approach positively impacts safety performance. Conversely, numerous published studies show quantifiable impacts on injury reduction from behavioural safety approaches.                    

Both approaches attempt to engage employees in safety. Engaged employees are five times less likely to be hurt, and seven times less likely to experience an LTI[i],[ii], however, changes in a person’s values, beliefs, and attitudes have to come from within. Based on a person’s self-evaluation showing the tangible effects of desired outcomes, this is uncertain and takes a long time to affect behaviour[iii]. Depending on the person’s commitment to change it also takes between two to eight months of consistent performance for behaviour(s) to become a habit[iv]. Importantly, engaging work-groups in safety, rather than individuals, leads to greater behaviour change and incident reduction

.

Regardless, many safety professionals fail to consider the power of the prevailing situation when attempting behaviour and attitude change[vi]. In safety, this often means the presence of human error traps[vii], system faults, physical hazards, poor communications, lackadaisical safety leadership, etc. Optimising the situation optimises behaviour. For example, there is compelling evidence that completing corrective actions to eliminate hazards (i.e. change the situation) leads to an average 21% change in people’s safety behaviour[viii]. In turn, the behaviour change can be the precursor for belief and attitude changes[ix],[x].

Scientific research shows that any safety improvement initiative is doomed to failure if it does not concurrently address: 1) the way people think and feel about safety; 2) people’s safety behaviour, and 3) the prevailing situation. So the question arises: why does a large portion of the safety profession ignore the opportunities presented by this tri-partite approach?

Behavioural safety articles

Employers have a ‘duty to spot early signs of domestic abuse’, says Business Minister

Paul Scully has urged employers to put plans in place to spot signs of domestic abuse and help affected staff find the necessary support.

January Blues: SHP’s guide to helping workers beat the winter slump

The first few weeks of January are often perceived as a challenging time for the workforce from a mental wellbeing perspective.

Safety culture Q&A

Following our recent Safety Culture webinar, part of the SHP Webinar Wednesdays Series, we put your unanswered questions to panellist Tim Marsh.

The New Rules of Safety: A brave new world?

In the latest edition of the New Rules of Safety series, Andrew Sharman reflects on how the safety profession has had to adapt the the coronavirus pandemic and looks forward to a ‘brave new world’ and a new normal where the health and safety of people remains the most important feature for us all.

Zoom conferences and COVID-19

Tim Marsh discusses how, despite the relative success of conference calls and webinars during the pandemic, he hopes to be seeing you at a drinks reception soon…

Crisis culture – Are you ready for the second wave?

How has your COVID-19 workplace experience shifted since the first Lockdown?

Ethics uncovered: How do we know if something is, or is not moral or ethical?

In this article, Ouch Director Simon Cassin, seeks to provide a broad overview of common approaches and concepts of ethics and morality.

Putting the Vavavoom into Zoom… 5 tips to better virtual engagement

Engaging in a meaningful way with your employee teams is more important now than ever before, especially when the topic is about keeping yourself and colleagues safe and well.

How to support women’s health in the workplace

Alaana Woods – Commercial Director at Bupa Health Services – shares small, but achievable steps to help promote women’s health in the workplace.

Lessons from contrasting ‘return to work’ best practice with safety excellence

Tim Marsh and Karen Royale compare and contrast what very best practise is in return to work circles.

‘Health and safety is common sense,’ or is it?

‘Health and safety is just common sense.’ Group Health and Safety Manager, Joe Smith, says he has heard that statement all his life. As he has gained experience in the area, his feelings towards it have changed from initially seeing the logic in the statement, to questioning it, to now hating hearing it uttered.

Webinar Wednesdays: Safety culture

Join health & safety experts on Wednesday 4 November 2020 at 2:00pm and discuss best practices to change an organisation’s safety culture.

‘People are not risk averse enough for our liking’

Why it is so difficult to get people to follow instructions that are there for their safety? These are often very simple instructions, so why do they ignore safety rules and cut corners? Group Health and Safety Manager, Joe Smith, responds to a recent SHP article about behavioural safety progress.

How to manage a business and supply chain that’s COVID-Secure

A look at how businesses can manage their supply chain COVID-19 responsibilities as they increase activity and prepare to win new work.

Is our health & safety focus aimed at the wrong generation?

Subash Ludhra, Managing Director at Anntara Management Ltd and former IOSH President, discusses what effect a person’s upbringing can have on their perception of risk and how they go about their daily routine, and their work, later in life.

Engage people at work: From Coronation Street to culture change

David Mansell, Creative Consultant at Tribe Culture Change shares the parallels between creating an engaging storyline on a soap opera and using stories to influence and engage people at work.

Behavioural safety & risk management: Dr Tim Marsh’s personal case study

‘I was calm, sober and legally compliant so I should have been safe. Indeed, I had been safe about 150,000 times before in similar circumstances … but what I didn’t do was double check an assumption…’

The risk assessment trap: Are risk assessments encouraging unsafe behaviours?

Are risk assessments encouraging unsafe behaviours? Tony Roscoe, Head of Consulting Services at Anker & Marsh, looks at human behaviour and whether people take greater risks because a risk assessment has been completed.

Being a lone wolf during lockdown – Implications of the coronavirus for the self-employed

Everyone has their own unique stories of coronavirus and lockdown. In the latest of his series of ‘lone wolf’ articles, Dr Nick Bell reflects on six implications of the crisis for the self-employed.

Webinar: Safely back to business

In this on-demand webinar, hear from SafetyCulture’s COO Alistair Venn, GM of EMEA Dan Joyce, and VP of Product Brian Swift as they discuss what companies need to do to get their workers safely back to work and how important a data-driven early warning system is for businesses.

Resetting your North Star for the new normal: What can we learn from start-ups to reset safety culture after COVID-19?

Tribe Culture Change’s Kevin Edwards asks if the coronavirus crisis is an opportunity for a cultural reset and whether organisational start-ups provide any clues on how to achieve this.

[i] Harter, J K., Schmidt, F. L. , Killham, E. A., & Asplund, J. W (2006). Q12® Meta-Analysis. Gallup Consulting;

[ii] Lockwood, N. R. (2007). Leveraging employee engagement for competitive advantage: HR’s strategic role. HR magazine, 52(3), 1-11.

[iii] Rothman, A. J. (2000). Toward a theory-based analysis of behavioral maintenance. Health Psychology19(1S), 64.

[iv] Lally, P., Van Jaarsveld, C.H.M., Potts, H. W.W. & Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 998–1009.

[v] Cooper, M.D. (2009). Behavioral Safety: Process Design Considerations. Professional Safety, 54 (2), 36-45.

[vi] Cooper, M.D. (2000). ‘Towards a Model of Safety Culture’. Safety Science, 32 (6), 111-136.

[vii] Cooper, M.D. & Finley, L.J. (2013). Strategic Safety Culture Roadmap. BSMS, Franklin, IN

[viii] Cooper, M.D. (2010). Safety Leadership In Construction: A Case Study. Italian Journal of Occupational Medicine and Ergonomics: Suppl. A Psychology, 32(1), pp A18-A23.

[ix] Pettigrew, T. F. (1998). Intergroup contact theory. Annual Review of Psychology, 49(1), 65-85.

[x] Cooper, M.D. & Phillips, R.A. (2004). Exploratory analysis of the safety climate and safety behavior relationship, Journal of Safety Research, 35, 497 – 512.

Sleep and Fatigue: Director’s Briefing

Fatigue is common amongst the population, but particularly among those working abnormal hours, and can arise from excessive working time or poorly designed shift patterns. It is also related to workload, in that workers are more easily fatigued if their work is machine-paced, complex or monotonous.

This free director’s briefing contains:

  • Key points;
  • Recommendations for employers;
  • Case law;
  • Legal duties.
Barbour EHS
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