Behavior-Based Safety Observations Best Practices

A Safety Manager’s list of best practices to ensure Behavior-Based Safety Observations (BBSO) success.

Andy Pritchard  |   June 23, 2022  |    5 min read

TABLE of contents

    Focus on the “Running”, not the “Slippery Floor”.

    Behavior-Based Safety Observation programs (or BBSOs) have a 50-year track record of helping staff identify at-risk behavior and helping build safety-first work cultures. Many companies struggle with their BBSO programs due to poor employee adoption, tedious paper-based processes, and difficulty viewing trends in their data. Today we will highlight some best practices from a safety leader who has made their facility safer with BBSO.

    Digitization Maverick Leader Profile

    Michael M is an HSE Specialist for a Fortune 100 global CPG manufacturing organization. Michael leads the Behavior-Based Safety Observations program for a factory in New Jersey, USA.

    Michael launched a paper-based BBSO program in 2019 and encountered issues with adoption and the time required to manually input the data and project administration. Michael hired Weever’s Workflow Management Platform to solve BBSO challenges.

    Ensure BBSOs are Used Strictly for “Behaviors”.

    A “behavior” is defined as any action you can see someone doing, but sometimes BBSO programs can be distorted to capture unsafe work, tools, or environmental conditions. BBSO programs are intended to make staff aware of how they are working, and to address unconscious habits that put them at risk. “Wet Floors” is not a behavior. “Running quickly” on the floor is the behavior. Near Miss, 5S and other Emergency Work Order (EWO) type reports can be used for environment-related safety issues.

    Ensure BBSO Training is Included in New Employee Orientation.

    Adding BBSO training to new employee orientation helped Michael increase adoption over time. Veteran employees can be resistant to change, so consciously shift your safety culture towards BBSO by ensuring new employees understand its importance. Once the newer staff are demonstrating the value of the new program, the veterans will adopt BBSO over time too.

    Video is helpful in training staff on how to properly conduct safety behavior observations and what to look out for.

    BBSOs Should Be Positive.

    During employee training it's important to highlight that this program is not about “ratting out” or finding fault with your coworkers. Encourage observers to offer positive comments and praise for work habits that are safe. Continue to reinforce with staff that safety observations are about keeping safe behaviors “top of mind”. Mixing positive comments in with suggestions on how to work safer will help make your BBSO program a positive experience for everyone.

    Use Photos to Capture Richer Data

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Using a digital solution that enables photo capture helps to provide context and additional information about the observation with little additional work. Richer data means better insights, and will empower your safety staff to make a safer workplace.

    Rewards Enhance Program Performance.

    Busy staff often need to prioritize how they will spend their time at work, so reward your BBSO champions for going above and beyond with a Rewards program. Incentivize those who do extra observations or have very rich data in their forms with points that can be redeemed for company swag, gift cards, sports tickets, etc. Also, consider having a leaderboard where your top contributors can see their name up in lights!

    BBSO Works!

    As a result of the partnership between Michael and Weever their factory now has a functional BBSO program that has been fully adopted by their staff. Useful safety data now informs Michael and his team where they need to focus their time and attention, ensuring they are delivering the right training to help everyone stay safe.

    Download the Ultimate Guide to Behavior-Based Safety Observations (BBSO)

    Instructions, customer stories, and best practices on setting up and managing an effective BBSO program to help you avoid over 90% of workplace incidents that result from at-risk behaviors.

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