Safety Observation (BBSO) Sample Questions

Andy Pritchard  |   April 21, 2022  |    5 min read

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    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
    • Procedures

    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.

    What are some Safety Observation sample questions?

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    Here are some sample questions you can used to build your BBSO scorecard.

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    Observation "Metadata"

    Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. In this case, you will probably want to know things like who is submitting the observations, where they are, when the observations were submitted, and so forth.

    Consider your reports when you are collecting metadata. How do you want to be able to filter your data so you can understand insights and make decisions? If you don't think collecting location data would help you, then don't bother capturing it.

    Unique IDs for submissions help to keep your data organized.

    A list of metadata to collect for each submission could include:

    1. Observer name
    2. Line/Work Area, Site, or Location
    3. Date/Time of Observation
    4. Who was observed - either names or type (i.e. staff members, contractors, etc.)
    5. Number of people observed.

    Digital solutions help capture metadata more efficiently in a few ways. Assets (such as lists of equipment, lines, sites, people, companies, etc.) can be loaded and easily selected by staff, which makes data capture more efficient and also standardizes data better. You can also "auto-capture" data, such as the logged in user, their location (based on GPS coordinates, and the date/time of the submission).

    Emergency Contact Info

    It's a good best practice to provide emergency call information in the event that an observer is witnessing a safety emergency. You can also provide contact information should the observer or the observed parties require clarity on an issue.

    Body Position

    Body position is the most common safety observation and the most likely to result in injury. Workers can twist into awkward positions to get the job done quickly and move on. They can risk falling and also put themselves in the line of fire. Some Body Position categories you might consider are:

    • Pivoting/twisting
    • Risk of falling
    • Line of fire
    • Ascending/descending
    • Lifting/lowering
    • Posture
    • Grip/force
    • Ergonomic design
    PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

    Using the appropriate PPE correctly is so important in ensuring safety. Often workers will have the appropriate equipment but not use it correctly. These observations provide great teaching opportunities either with individuals or teams. Some PPE categories you might want to use include:

    • Head Gear
    • Respiratory System
    • Hearing
    • Eyes and Face
    • Body
    • Feet and Legs
    • Quality of PPE
    Tools & Equipment

    Similar to PPE, the appropriate use of the correct tools and equipment is very important to ensure a safe work environment. Some categories for this may include:

    • Used incorrectly
    • Poor Selection or condition
    • Appropriate for the task/use
    Work Environment

    In some cases, the work environment itself is unsafe. Some categories for work environment may include:

    • Housekeeping
    • Trip hazards
    • Area is unorganized

    Digital solutions can use conditional logic to provide on-demand instructions for workers so they can review a video, documentation or images that describe how the form/process works. Conditional logic can also show and hide form content based on the user's selections, thus providing a more efficient experience. 

    Observation Description & Proposed Countermeasures

    It is important for staff to provide an overview of the At-Risk behavior they have observed. This provides context that informs individual follow-ups and shift huddle one-point lesson.

    Capture Photos

    Allow your staff to capture photos of the observation. Photos can help provide additional context and meaning to inform follow-ups.

    Digital solutions allow staff to "talk-to-text", which makes written data capture more efficient and also easier for managers to understand.

    Photo capture is perhaps the most immediate benefit of going paperless. Multiple photos can be captured in the report, complete with sketches to highlight the issue.

    Safety Observations

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