Reducing the total number of workplace incidents in an organisation is a goal many are rightfully striving for. However, some feel the previous process and paper-driven approach to health and safety is failing to protect people at work and reduce the likelihood of incidents occurring.

The 21st century has brought new schools of thought, one of which is behavioural safety. This approach focuses more on influencing human behaviour rather than making employees follow rules and processes. Keep reading to discover more about how your business can incorporate good behavioural safety practices which save both lives and money.

  1. Start by putting a plan in place to identify unsafe behaviours

Working out the behaviours that are threatening the safety of your workers is the first challenge to overcome. Many implanting behavioural safety monitors are appointed to collect and record data in relation to unsafe and safe behaviours in the workplace. Make sure you give these appointees the flexibility to carry out their duties without interruptions.

  • Make sure you have got the whole workplace on board with behavioural safety

Needless to say, it is important to have the whole organisation on board when it comes to behavioural safety. Bear in mind that employees will act differently if they know they are being observed by your behavioural safety observers. Whilst this is good as it promotes more good practices the key is to get employees on board with improving their workplace behaviour indefinitely.

  • Target and eliminate some specific unsafe behaviours

One of the key objectives of behavioural safety is to eliminate habits at work that can lead to major incidents. Simple lapses in memory and poor routine behaviour can contribute to a chain of events that may lead to injury or death.

  •  Give positive feedback for good behaviour
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As well as taking steps to minimise unsafe behaviour, it is equally important to praise behaviours and habits that contribute to a safe workplace. Research suggests positive reinforcement has a much greater impact on future performance than negative feedback.

  • Ensure front line managers are visibly committed to behavioural safety

Making sure your front line managers are visibly enthusiastic about improving behavioural health and safety practices is crucial to getting your employees motivated to improve their habits in the workplace.

Some examples of poor workplace safety behaviours

Here are some examples of how bad behaviours and habits in the workplace can lead to incidents.

  • Bad use of handrails when going up and down stairways: can lead to falls and injuries
  • Forgetting to clean up a spill on the floor: could lead to a slip and injuries

Both these incidents are an example of how poor ongoing human behaviour can lead to major workplace incidents that can result in injury or death.

The area of behavioural safety is relatively new and is still being explored in both an academic and safety context. If you have any further questions on the subject make sure you find advice from an expert HSE source going forward.

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