Rethinking Behavior Based Safety
A New Perspective
It’s Time to Rethink BBS. The core problem is that leaders are attracted to the idea that all they have to do is get the ‘behavioral factor’ under control and they can stop worrying about it. This is a very seductive idea, but it is harmful. On the other extreme, there are those who are afraid to say the word ’behavior’, for fear of sounding like they blame the worker. Both extremes are partially correct but neither move us forward.
Behavior based safety (BBS) is one of the most important yet often debated approaches to safety improvement in the last 35 years. Some companies swear by it, while others think it is time to move on. There are legitimate reasons for both views. Our Chairman, Tom Krause, was one of the originators of BBS, so we have a unique perspective that may be different from many. It may well be time to move on. Not because there is anything unsound about the core principles of the original concepts of BBS as put forward since the 80’s, but because the world has changed – there are better ways to think about it today than there were 35 years ago. On this page you’ll find a variety of resources that discuss why BBS should evolve, and explore what that future might look like.
ARTICLES THAT RETHINK BEHAVIOR-BASED SAFETY
Part 1: Considering the Baseline
Part 2: The Influence of Cognitive Bias
Exploring the role that cognitive bias plays in the decision-making process.
Part 3: A Safety Example
An example from the safety field of how cognitive bias affects our ability to make good decisions.
Chapter 6: The Role of Behavior in Organizational Safety
Incidents are caused by a network of factors including design, safety systems, leadership, culture, and behavior. The role of behavior in incident causation is important, but it is only one piece, and usually a small one at that. Focusing on behavior as if it is the whole story is a serious mistake. It can alienate employees, drive accurate data underground, and leave other risk factors unchecked. For all these reasons, understanding the role of behavior is essential to good safety leadership.
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