Pros and cons of a behavioral-based safety program

Behavior-based safety (BBS) programs are on a mission to eliminate preventable injuries at work sites everywhere. By focusing greater attention on how employees work and devising safe alternatives to high-risk actions, behavior based safety programs protect people, productivity and profitability.

However, even something as benign-sounding as a comprehensive safety program is not without its critics. Let’s look at both sides of BBS programs so interested parties know what to expect when they bring similar initiatives to their facilities.

Pro: BBS engages workers

Safety directly impacts workers. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. businesses reported 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses and 4,836 fatal injuries in 2015. With small changes to procedure, perhaps many of these injuries could have been avoided.

BBS programs act as common ground between upper management and rank-and-file equipment operators or line workers. Both are looking for simple methods of production that decrease risk. When workers are included in how companies develop safety measures and why, these changes feel less like an edict sent down from on high and more like a cooperative effort.

Con: BBS blames workers (if not fully implemented)

Critics of BBS programs say they unfairly target workers, a claim that has merit in certain instances. If a BBS program starts and ends with a list of actions employees are required to carry out under penalty of reprimand or termination, implementers have missed the point of BBS entirely.

Correct unsafe workplace operations without accusation.Correct unsafe workplace operations without accusation.

Unsafe activity at the worksite does not happen in a vacuum. Employees who put themselves at risk do not normally do so without cause. Perhaps they lack training or clear information regarding how exactly their methods put them in jeopardy. Maybe managers haven’t made crucial resources available to them. Whatever the case may be, the objective of BBS programs is and should always be a search for the root cause of dangerous actions, not a blame game.


Pro: BBS supports modern accountability
BBS programs encourage efficient recordkeeping practices across key safety metrics, the information from which is then fed into continuous improvement and organizational change models. Data informs processes, updated processes yield data, and so on and so on.

Practicality is what separates BBS programs from any other risk-based discipline like it. As this piston of progress turns, businesses collect pertinent information on safety and put it to real-world use protecting their workers. IndustrySafe safety software can help your organization analyze its safety data and glean intelligent insights that will improve how your company operates. Ask us about how to get your free software demo today.