The concept of behavior-based safety developed by H.W. Heinrich in the 1930-40s looked to employee behavior or ‘man failure’ as the cause of most industrial accidents. Today, industry professionals identify this as an outdated safety approach, yet many employers remain stuck in this old mentality, leaving gaps in safety in your workplace.
Why Behavior-Based Safety Alone is Not Effective
When direct blame is assigned to workers, external factors, the second part of the safety equation, are overlooked. This thwarts improvement in engineering controls, best practices, safety program management and communication.
Incentive programs rewarding safety quotas likewise discourage the reporting of near misses and injury incidents. And the anonymous observation and reporting of peers can create a culture of fear and negative consequences, discouraging the sharing of ideas for improvement.
Building a Culture of Safety in Your Workplace
An organization-wide approach to safety management, the end result of combined individual and group efforts of all levels of staff, starts with management to trickle down to every worker. Replacing antiquated methods, the blame-based behavioral model is replaced with true care and concern for employee well-being in all levels/departments.
Anonymous observation is replaced with management monitoring over peer control. And positive reinforcement applies to the reporting of good and bad incidents: Accidents and near-misses, and the contribution of feedback leading to increased safety. This improved safety culture gleans knowledge from all segments of the organization, with all levels taking responsibility for worker safety.
Interested in learning more about creating a culture of safety in your workplace? Learn how in our upcoming installment on ‘Safety Culture Building Tips,’ or contact Minnesota Comp Advisor today.