What are BBS Observations and how can software help?

Andy Pritchard  |   April 6, 2022  |    5 min read

TABLE of contents
    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.

    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:

    1. Review best practices with observer - in some instances, the observer noted something as “At Risk” when it was not, or “Safe” when it was not. This is a great coaching opportunity for supervisors to review best practices with the observer.
    2. Review best practices with observed - Usually, the observer is correct and the supervisor will plan a follow up with the observed parties to review appropriate safety SOPs to avoid the situation occurring in the future. 
    3. 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. 


    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.

    How does software help manage BBSO programs?

    Software provides a ton of benefits over a paper based program. Here is a run down of how Weever works to automate data capture, workflows and real-time reporting.

    BBSO On-Demand Instruction
    Provide on-demand instructions

    Like other “secondary” operational processes, Behaviour Safety Observations are not a primary job requirement and they are not executed daily. As a result, having a quick “refresher” on hand is helpful.

    Create Schedules

    Paper-based processes rely on staff to remember to do their BBSO, while software can be used to remind with notifications based on a schedule.

    Capture Data on any device

    One problem that limits the performance of BBSO programs can simply be the accessibility of the forms. Digitization allows staff to load the form on any device, go through it quickly and feel successful doing it.

    Configurable Templates

    Have you ever created a form and then needed to make changes, which requires you to find and destroy all the copies of the old form, which still get submitted a year later. With digital form builders, updates happen in real-time so you don’t have to worry about staff using the wrong form.

    Automate Rewards

    Software makes it easy to allocate points to staff that can be redeemed in a rewards marketplace.

    Guide staff through the experience

    Conditional logic allows you to guide staff through the experience to ensure they capture the correct information the first time and every time.

    Add Photos

    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.

    Real-time Communication

    Should the observer require immediate help, digital forms provide a means to connect instantly with a safety manager.

    Optimize the Evaluation Process

    Each submission creates a ticket that is organized in the appropriate digital folder. Supervisors review each submission and create action plans if necessary. Supervisors can also receive notifications if you wish although you may not want to load up their inbox.

    Assign Next Steps and Due Dates

    Supervisors can create action plans, assign them, and add due dates. Assignees are notified and supervisors are made aware of approaching and overdue deadlines. 

    Automate Real-Time Dashboard Updates

    Save administrative time by automating reporting. Create stunning and highly configurable dashboard reports that are updated in real-time. Spend less time in front of spreadsheets and more time doing what you want to make your site safer.

    Broadcast Results

    Set up real-time updates that can be broadcast to staff that show how the BBSO program is “moving the needle” towards a safer worksite.

    Behavior-Based Safety Observations

    • Customize pre-built templates.
    • Guide staff with on-demand instructions, call-outs and tutorials.
    • Capture photos, sketches and digital signatures.
    • Automated alerts and create investigation action plans.
    • Automate dashboard reporting and share data with other business systems in real-time.
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