Published 23 May 2023
What is Behavior-based Safety?
Behavior-based safety, or behavioral safety, is the bottom-up approach to implementing workplace safety programs. Behavior-based safety (BBS) aims to achieve a total safety culture by observing routine tasks, providing timely feedback, and analyzing the root cause of unsafe acts. Correctly carrying out BBS can uncover systemic issues, reduce job-related injuries, and improve workplace morale.
In this article
- How to Implement Behavior-based Safety in Your Workplace
- What is a Behavior-based Safety Checklist?
- How to Create a Behavior-based Safety Checklist
- What to Include?
- Benefits of Using One
- FAQs About Behavior-based Safety Checklist
- Free Behavior-based Safety App
- Featured Behavior-based Safety Checklists
How to Implement Behavior-based Safety in Your Workplace
Implementing behavior-based safety can seem burdensome at first, especially because in some cases, safety observations frequently end up in a blame game. Certified Safety Professional and Associate in Risk Management, Larry Hansen shared, “Behavior-based safety done right can be very effective at helping you find the core organizational causes of risk. Done wrong, it can be used to mask management failures.”
Here are 5 quick steps to help you get started with implementing behavior-based safety in your workplace:
1. Understand the ABC Model
The ABC Model, or Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence, is a well-established strategy for analyzing and potentially changing how people act. Both the management and frontline workers should clearly understand what triggers unsafe behavior and how they impact workplace safety. Follow these key concepts of the ABC Model in implementing Behavior-based Safety:
2. Examine Past Incidents and Near Misses
Assuming that employees are the problem is a misconception that leads to failure. Safety managers should carefully examine inspection results recorded over time to determine their root cause and what could have prevented reported injuries. Create a behavior-based safety checklist based on critical safe behavior such as proper PPE, body position, and equipment operation.
3. Practice Positive Reinforcement
One of the biggest mistakes in behavior-based safety is blaming the workforce for unsafe working conditions. Management should emphasize recognizing safe behavior, instead of fault-finding. When employees receive timely, specific, and positive feedback, they will pay more attention to their own and their peers’ daily safety behavior. Positive reinforcement of behavior-based safety results in behavioral changes that last.
4. Apply People-focused Interventions
Encouraging staff to take a proactive role in eliminating the root cause of unsafe acts is a step in the right direction. According to H.W. Heinrich in Industrial Accident Prevention: A Scientific Approach, underlying facts about unsafe acts include “faults of management and supervision plus the unwise methods and procedures that management and supervision fail to correct”. Conduct individual and group safety observations, coaching, and mentoring to demonstrate a commitment to open communication, fair leadership, and continuous improvement.
5. Streamline the Reporting Process
Supervisors (and workers) tend to fabricate safety observations to meet quotas and deadlines. Taking and attaching photos, drafting the report, and submitting it take too much valuable time and energy. Managing records and tracking progress can also be challenging. Organizations can easily monitor performance, improve accountability and gain visibility by successfully harnessing new technology.
What is a Behavior-based Safety Checklist?
A behavior-based safety checklist, or behavioral safety checklist, is used by safety managers to systematically apply positive reinforcement of safe acts in the workplace. Utilizing digital behavioral based safety checklists can help organizations eliminate root causes of at-risk behavior and inspire employees to be self-accountable.
How to Create a Behavior-based Safety Checklist
It is important to have a behavior-based safety checklist in place to help ensure the safety of both employees and customers. To create a behavior-based safety checklist that is just right for your business, consider the following:
- What is the purpose of the checklist?
- What behavior do you want to target?
- Who will be using the checklist?
- How often will the checklist be used?
- What format will the checklist be in?
The purpose of the checklist is to identify behaviors that could result in an injury or accident, while the behavior that is targeted will depend on the industry and type of business. For example, in a manufacturing setting, unsafe behaviors might include not wearing proper protective equipment or not following safety procedures.
In a retail setting, unsafe behaviors might include not cleaning up spills or not properly securing merchandise.
In some cases, the checklist will be used by supervisors to conduct observations of employees or by employees themselves to self-monitor their own behavior. Ultimately, the frequency of use will depend on the business—some use them on a daily basis, while others use them weekly or monthly.
These checklists can be paper-based or in digital form. There are also a variety of mobile apps that businesses can use to create and manage their behavior-based safety checklists.
What to Include?
Since it differs based on its main use, here are a few general items that a behavior-based safety checklist should have:
- Site name
- Name of the observer
- Date of audit
- Aspects that need to be observed (e.g., PPE, equipment, operations, loading/unloading procedures, etc.)
- Areas for improvement
- Additional comments/recommendations
- Completion (full name and signatures of authorized people)
Benefits of Using One
A behavior-based safety checklist can provide many benefits for both individuals and organizations. For individuals, it can help identify potential hazards in their work environment and address them before they result in unforeseen incidents. Organizations, meanwhile, can improve safety performance by promoting safe behavior and improving communication between employees and management.
Behavior-based safety checklists can also help achieve compliance with safety regulations. By creating a clear and concise way to identify potential hazards, they can provide employees with a better understanding of their role in preventing accidents and injuries.
FAQs About Behavior-based Safety Checklist
A behavioral safety audit, also more commonly known as a safety observation, is the process of evaluating how employees practice safe behavior in the workplace. Behavioral safety audits are usually documented in safety observation reports, where safety mentions, opportunities for improvement, and critical items are specifically identified to be shared with the workers.
By following the tips below, you can ensure that your behavior-based safety checklist is used effectively and efficiently:
- Make sure everyone understands the purpose of the checklist and how it should be used.
- Use the checklist regularly, especially when new hazards are present.
- Be sure to involve employees in creating and updating the checklist.
- Use the checklist as a guide for safety observations and audits.
- Keep track of changes and progress over time by regularly reviewing the checklist.
Behavior-based safety allows employees to be observant of their own actions, thus, improving work safety starting from themselves. It also provides an increased opportunity between leaders, managers, and employees to communicate and immediately address any potential hazards identified.
Free Behavior-based Safety App
Safety managers should perform paperless safety observations, recordkeeping, and reporting to effectively implement behavior-based safety. SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor), the world’s most powerful inspection platform, can help organizations eliminate the root cause of unsafe acts, reduce job-related injuries, and improve workplace morale. Empower your employees to:
- Capture photo evidence of safe and at-risk behavior. Watch the overview video.
- Schedule safety observations and assign corrective actions
- Automatically generate and share behavior-based safety reports with stakeholders and key personnel. Preview sample report.
- Use for free with small teams. Unlimited reports and storage, integrations, and real-time analytics for premium accounts.
Featured Behavior-based Safety Checklists
This behavioral safety checklist is used by a professional services company that specializes in providing safety psychology services, including behavioral safety program implementation. Use this checklist to assess laboratory, blending operations, loading/unloading process, and warehouse operations practices and determine if they’re safe, unsafe, or unseen.
This behavior-based safety observation form can be used for general building and office environments. Included in this checklist are key areas critical to health and safety such as work environment, electrical hazards, fire safety and equipment, etc. Use this template to document your safety observations across the relevant sections of Safety Mentions, Opportunity for Improvement or Critical Items and create corrective measures with an assignee, priority level, and due date.
A behavior-based safety observation checklist is used by safety managers to identify safe and at-risk behavior of frontline workers. Use this checklist to assess employees’ ergonomics, PPE, tools and equipment, work areas, and procedures. The moment you complete this checklist, all data is automatically saved, organized, and collected in real time. Easily spot trends of unsafe acts and monitor performance using SafetyCulture analytics.
This behavioral safety audit checklist can be used in offices to observe safe behavior for handling tools and equipment, PPE, safety systems and procedures, ergonomics, and waste management. Indicate observation points as “OK”, “NOK” (not okay), “N/A” (not applicable), or “Feedback”, take/attach necessary photos or files, and automatically generate the audit report.
A critical behavior checklist (CBC) is used to help ensure the practice of critical safe behavior such as office ergonomics, PPE, body use and position, lifting, work environment, tools and equipment, forklift or manlift, and light vehicles or trucks. Use this checklist to detect reasons for at-risk behaviors such as disagreement with safe practice, personal choice or shortcuts, job knowledge, job focus, facilities or equipment, and management system. Accomplish this critical behavior checklist with the date and time of completion and the observer’s digital signature.
A field level hazard assessment template aims to help frontline workers identify and immediately control hazards in designated work areas. It promotes behavior-based safety by enabling workers to apply the “stop and think” process in minimizing health and safety risks at the onset. Use this template to briefly discuss the tasks to be done during the shift, specify and take photos of the hazards in your work area, indicate how hazards are controlled, and update the tasks, hazards, and controls in real-time.
An incident report template is a tool used to record incidents such as injuries, near misses, accidents, property damage, and more. Use this template to document specific details of the incident and help organizations improve behavior-based safety. Make the most of this checklist by identifying the type of the incident, person of injury, and job description, taking or attaching photo evidence of incident, environment, and person(s) involved, and gathering witness statements with their digital signatures.