Behavior-based safety: How far it has come, how far it will go

Behavior-based safety has been the guiding principle of industrial risk prevention for decades. Yet it did not start out that way, nor will it continue to be the exact same thing it was at its start.

Let’s take a look at how BBS as a discipline has evolved and where experts expect to go.

BBS programs of the past
Although it is true BBS programs share a common ancestry, each one possesses discrete qualities that separate it from others. With that said, many in the field of occupational safety credit engineer and insurance specialist Herbert William Heinrich as the father of BBS. Heinrich published “Industrial Accident Prevention: A Scientific Approach” in 1931, which claimed nearly all workplace accidents (88 percent) were the result of unsafe actions committed by workers.

However, critics of Heinrich’s work believe it hardly went far enough. Of course line workers and equipment operators caused the most workplace accidents. They’re the ones directly handling machines and products. The question is, what prevents them from complying with rules. Heinrich cited “social environment” and “ancestry.” Obviously, thinkers of today know these outdated considerations have no bearing in modern business, but the value of the different BBS programs that grew from this beginning cannot be overstated.

Workplace safety has come a long way since the 1930s.Workplace safety has come a long way since the 1930s.

BBS programs of the future
No matter what shape BBS programs take – a gamified reward system, preshift/postshift check-in sessions with management – the companies that institute them have one thing in common: They crunch the numbers, so to speak. They use operational data to learn how workers act on a daily basis and respond to this information constructively.

As businesses draw on larger datasets pertaining to on-site safety and work to integrate their findings into how they improve their organizations, they will require tools that can handle the influx of information without losing the valuable insights hidden within. IndustrySafe safety management software gives users real-time visibility into safe and unsafe working behaviors and conditions. Users can compare BBS data at their organizations with training completion rates, inspection information and more so that safety managers can identify trends and take action when appropriate.

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