Behavioural SafetyWouldn’t it be nice if you could tackle what is an influencing element in virtually all of your accidents and near misses?Wouldn’t it be even better if the solution to that element was well tried, cost effective and a catalyst for further improvements (and not just for safety)?The implementation of a behavioural safety programme is not a magic wand, but it can be very effective, providing senior management are prepared to support it. It can provide that elusive step change to a company’s safety performance that has reached a plateau, it can be used to reinvigorate an existing safety culture or be used to create a safety culture where one did not exist. So what is behavioural safety?Behavioural safety can mean many things to different people. For us behavioural safety can perhaps best be described by listing just some of the behaviours that the programme is meant to instil;1.Employees wearing hearing protection without a single manager in sight.2.Employees looking out for each other.3.Line managers taking their legal responsibilities seriously4.Managers talking constructively about safety with workers5.Managers of all levels seen to be setting a good exampleTo achieve some of the above behaviours it is likely that the culture will have to evolve – and that takes time, often 2-3 years, but we have seen some significant changes even within days of a training session from the most unlikely of people!It should be expected that on the road to changing the culture some barriers would appear; such as people not wanting to get involved – senior management should be ready for these and deal with them quickly.Depending on the company, it is likely that some workers will have seen initiatives disappear even before the ink has dried on the notice board telling them about it. As such, some employees will wait and see what happens without getting involved. If the employee is a line manager, or even worse a senior manager, then they must be persuaded to get involved in the initiative otherwise the initiative could falter.In some ways behavioural safety is almost like developing a family where folk look out for each other. Yet another way of looking at it is that of total team development, which encourages ownership and responsibility for line managers but involving everyone in the team.Behavioural safety training given by some trainers can seem soft and fluffy with nice ideas for an ideal world. We believe behavioural safety training should be practical and tangible and be integrated within the business so it can start to make a difference day after day. It can be effective when managed in various ways – but if it managed at departmental level then the effects can be startling. Departments taking the ownership of safety into their own hands – the effect can be immediate and sustainable. Some line managers may even want to cascade the behavioural safety message down to their people themselves. What might be lost from their presentation skills is more than made up for in the interest and even passion for keeping their own people safe – this is readily apparent and provides a message far more powerful than even the most gifted of professional speakers can muster.Line managers have a legal responsibility towards their people – but many don’t know about it. We’ve found that when enlightened a different approach is taken which even on its own makes the workplace safer. This ensures the line manager is far less likely to think that safety is nothing to do with them or that it is a
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