Safety Observation (BBSO) ideas and questions to ask.
Andy Pritchard | April 21, 2022 | 5 min read
What are Behavior-Based Safety Observations?
Behavior-Based Safety Observations (BBSO) are an integral part of modern, proactive safety programs. The goal is to reduce the number of incidents by recognizing safe behavior and eliminating unsafe practices either through training or updates to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
The BBSO practice has gained popularity because it is relatively easy to implement and manage, it fosters a safety-first culture and it delivers results.
The practice requires staff to observe other workers and provide a report on the general safety of their work including:
- Body Position
- PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
- Tools & Equipment
- Work Environment
As staff members submit their reports, Safety Managers can use the intel to inform updates to SOP documentation and plan One Point Lessons or Toolbox talks around a specific safety issue that keeps coming up. The general idea is that by promoting safe work habits through observations, the number of incidents will decrease over time.
How do Behaviour-Based Safety Observation Programs Work?
BBSO programs require observations from staff, evaluation by supervisors and KPI reporting to measure results.
1. Safety Observations
Monthly Data Capture Requirements
Safety Managers provide a bit of training around what to observe, when, and how often. Observers need to inform the observed staff members that they are being watched. While it is common that observation means that a worker will perform the task perfectly, habits and complacency can affect the outcome of the observation.
You can either select and train specific staff members to be observers or allow all staff to submit safety observations. Limiting observers makes the program a bit easier to manager but it does reduce amount of teachable moments that can arise from safety observations.
Usually, staff are mandated to submit at least 1 safety observation per month. Some organizations use a reward points to promote submissions and reduce “nagging” or negative motivation.
2. Evaluation & Action
Evaluate Submissions and Create Action Plans
When observations are submitted, Supervisors review them and create action plans. Any behaviors that present an immediate danger to the life and health of the worker, or to the environment, must be stopped immediately and a discussion between the observer and the worker regarding the matter should take place.
Upon submission, many observations will be simply closed because the observation was considered safe. At-risk behaviours can create a few different action plans:
- Review best practices with individuals - The supervisor will plan a follow-up with the observed parties to review appropriate safety SOPs to avoid the situation occurring in the future.
- Create Learning Content - If a situation continues to occur, Safety Managers will create a One Point Lesson or “Toolbox Talk” session where all staff will review the best practice and sign off that they understand.
- Updates to SOPs - sometimes the operating procedure documentation is to blame for the issue, so the next step is to make an update and train your staff.
3. Showcase Results
Broadcast KPI improvements
The magic of BBSO programs comes in the feedback to staff that shows that the site is safer as a result of their work. Usually, Safety Managers can point to safety KPIs, such as near misses or incidents to show that the BBSO program is having a positive impact.
What are some ideas for BBSO for questions and content?
Download the BBSO Observation Score Card Template
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