August 2008, Vol. 20, No.8

Safety Corner

Connecting with Training Strategies

Tim Page-Bottorff

How many times can you give someone safety training, whether it is compliance training or behavior-based safety (BBS) training, and hope they do everything you asked or told them to do? The bottom line is, when employees leave the training room, you will rely on them to perform in a safe manner. However, several approaches are available to encourage and equip employees to perform better when it comes to safety. Try adopting some of the following techniques to help improve your safety climate.

First, there is the “scare-them-to-death” tactic. You know the one I am talking about. Scare them with injury and fatality statistics. Show them a high-impact video, or simply provide progressive discipline for incidents that were never intended to happen.

While this may work for some, the safety climate has a way of disappearing when you punish an employee for nondeliberate acts. There is room for discipline, but I bet that 99% of the time, you will find that the injuries were never deliberate.

If you punish employees for nondeliberate acts, employees will not respect the safety program and training. You can judge this by observing how many employees sit in the back or middle of the room, rather than in front, during safety training.

Second, incentive programs can be provided. Definite positive behavior modification can be achieved by providing incentive programs, which are far more effective than progressive discipline. Many programs are available, but any program is better than none. Some that have been proven to work are discussed below.

Self-Safety Programs
A self-safety program is employee driven and works on the promise of employee ownership. Employees enforce the safety program that they help create. This model works well for new safety program development. Even though self safety is driven and policed by the employees, management must provide support in this safety arena.

Safety Awards or Merits

Providing awards works most of the time for most companies when prevention and reduction of injuries is the goal. Awards can take the form of gifts, time off, or cash. The table (right) lists the approximate safetycorner_aug08.jpg
costs of some gifts and prizes. You could also provide a group safety barbecue where the group that performs the best — that is, has the least number of mishaps — receives the award. A variation on this theme is to replace the immediate awards or prizes with merits that are collected over a period of time and then used to choose from a selection of awards or prizes. Several vendors provide this type of service; your local safety contractor should be able to help you find out more.

Behavior-Based Safety
BBS focuses on what people do, analyzes why they do it, and then applies an intervention strategy to improve on that. Traditionally, BBS is a long-term process. Receiving a return on investment (ROI) usually takes 3 to 5 years. ROI is usually measured by safety metrics including incident rates, days away from work, or restricted-days rates (DART rates). Less tangible metrics, such as the safety climate — how safe employees feel versus how safe they are — are sometimes used.

The disadvantage of these systems is that they can take some time to take effect and produce results. For example, construction projects do not have the luxury of waiting 3 to 5 years to see a safety climate shift utilizing traditional BBS systems.

However, recent breakthroughs have helped construction companies implement BBS systems without the long wait for ROI. For example, the Safestart™ Advanced Safety Awareness program claims to have a proven track record of reversing a negative safety climate and reducing incident and DART rates by 60% to 90%.

This program advocates eliminating blame for mistakes, breaking hazard events into three categories — uncontrollable actions, someone else’s actions, and one’s own actions — and identifying and preventing critical errors that lead to accidents and the states of mind that lead to those errors.

According to this program, the four states of mind that should be avoided include rushing, frustration, fatigue, and complacency. The goal of the program is for a worker to self-identify when he or she is in one of these states and then take precautions against accidents.

To conclude, it is possible to provide tools that would enhance, entice, and elevate employee safety performance. Providing progressive discipline is appropriate for employees who perform deliberate acts that cause injury. Just remember that employees never intend to make mistakes.

Providing incentive programs is a great way to reward good performance. Implementing BBS has pluses and minuses, but for the most part, if you are looking for a quick ROI, reduction in injuries, and turnaround in your safety climate, implementing a BBS program can help lead you in the right direction. After all, you may not be able to eliminate mistakes, but you can be sure to give your employees the tools to help them succeed in your safety climate.

costs of some gifts and prizes. You could also provide a group safety barbecue where the group that performs the best — that is, has the least number of mishaps — receives the award. A variation on this theme is to replace the immediate awards or prizes with merits that are collected over a period of time and then used to choose from a selection of awards or prizes. Several vendors provide this type of service; your local safety contractor should be able to help you find out more.BBS focuses on what people do, analyzes why they do it, and then applies an intervention strategy to improve on that. Traditionally, BBS is a long-term process. Receiving a return on investment (ROI) usually takes 3 to 5 years. ROI is usually measured by safety metrics including incident rates, days away from work, or restricted-days rates (DART rates). Less tangible metrics, such as the safety climate — how safe employees feel versus how safe they are — are sometimes used.The disadvantage of these systems is that they can take some time to take effect and produce results. For example, construction projects do not have the luxury of waiting 3 to 5 years to see a safety climate shift utilizing traditional BBS systems.However, recent breakthroughs have helped construction companies implement BBS systems without the long wait for ROI. For example, the Safestart™ Advanced Safety Awareness program claims to have a proven track record of reversing a negative safety climate and reducing incident and DART rates by 60% to 90%.This program advocates eliminating blame for mistakes, breaking hazard events into three categories — uncontrollable actions, someone else’s actions, and one’s own actions — and identifying and preventing critical errors that lead to accidents and the states of mind that lead to those errors.According to this program, the four states of mind that should be avoided include rushing, frustration, fatigue, and complacency. The goal of the program is for a worker to self-identify when he or she is in one of these states and then take precautions against accidents.To conclude, it is possible to provide tools that would enhance, entice, and elevate employee safety performance. Providing progressive discipline is appropriate for employees who perform deliberate acts that cause injury. Just remember that employees never intend to make mistakes.Providing incentive programs is a great way to reward good performance. Implementing BBS has pluses and minuses, but for the most part, if you are looking for a quick ROI, reduction in injuries, and turnaround in your safety climate, implementing a BBS program can help lead you in the right direction. After all, you may not be able to eliminate mistakes, but you can be sure to give your employees the tools to help them succeed in your safety climate.

 

costs of some gifts and prizes. You could also provide a group safety barbecue where the group that performs the best — that is, has the least number of mishaps — receives the award. A variation on this theme is to replace the immediate awards or prizes with merits that are collected over a period of time and then used to choose from a selection of awards or prizes. Several vendors provide this type of service; your local safety contractor should be able to help you find out more.BBS focuses on what people do, analyzes why they do it, and then applies an intervention strategy to improve on that. Traditionally, BBS is a long-term process. Receiving a return on investment (ROI) usually takes 3 to 5 years. ROI is usually measured by safety metrics including incident rates, days away from work, or restricted-days rates (DART rates). Less tangible metrics, such as the safety climate — how safe employees feel versus how safe they are — are sometimes used.The disadvantage of these systems is that they can take some time to take effect and produce results. For example, construction projects do not have the luxury of waiting 3 to 5 years to see a safety climate shift utilizing traditional BBS systems.However, recent breakthroughs have helped construction companies implement BBS systems without the long wait for ROI. For example, the Safestart™ Advanced Safety Awareness program claims to have a proven track record of reversing a negative safety climate and reducing incident and DART rates by 60% to 90%.This program advocates eliminating blame for mistakes, breaking hazard events into three categories — uncontrollable actions, someone else’s actions, and one’s own actions — and identifying and preventing critical errors that lead to accidents and the states of mind that lead to those errors.According to this program, the four states of mind that should be avoided include rushing, frustration, fatigue, and complacency. The goal of the program is for a worker to self-identify when he or she is in one of these states and then take precautions against accidents.To conclude, it is possible to provide tools that would enhance, entice, and elevate employee safety performance. Providing progressive discipline is appropriate for employees who perform deliberate acts that cause injury. Just remember that employees never intend to make mistakes.Providing incentive programs is a great way to reward good performance. Implementing BBS has pluses and minuses, but for the most part, if you are looking for a quick ROI, reduction in injuries, and turnaround in your safety climate, implementing a BBS program can help lead you in the right direction. After all, you may not be able to eliminate mistakes, but you can be sure to give your employees the tools to help them succeed in your safety climate.