Why Is behavioral safety in the workplace so important?

Scientific research and Accident Investigation have shown that more than 90% of accidents, injuries or illnesses that occur in the workplace occur due to the Human Factors of an accidental occurrence. These Human factors involve behaviours that lead to slips, trips and falls, ignoring of safety procedures due to stress reactions, tiredness and fatigue.

Sometimes the source of Psychosocial stress factors are not work related at all but are present in a workers personal life, trouble at home or with family.

Whatever the reason for the presence of stress primarily it causes workers to behave in careless or unusual ways, making behaviour potentially dangerous or threatening.

Under such circumstances these kinds of actions can be said to be unsafe, potentially causing harm, to others in the workplace.

Therefore it is essential to learn to recognize when behaviour becomes dangerous and consciously try to manage your stress.

In these circumstances everyone must look out for everyone else to ensure their collective safety. Observe you colleague’s behaviour, listen to what they say and how they say it, understanding, empathy and tolerance are good methods to look out for one’s own safety as well as those of you workmates.

Health and safety in the workplace is influenced by a number of factors, from the organisational environment
through managers’ attitude and commitment to the nature of the job or task and the personal attributes of the worker. Safety-related behaviour in the workplace can be changed by addressing these major influences.

One way to improve safety performance is to introduce a behavioural safety process that identifies and reinforces safe behaviour and reduces unsafe behaviour.

At risk behaviours

Some examples are:

Cutting corners to save time:

How often do employees decide not to use personal protective equipment (PPE) because a task may only take seconds to complete?

In this example, the at-risk behaviour (the failure to use PPE) has the instant perceived benefit of saving time.

Ergonomic factors:

Inappropriately placed machine controls may lead to improvised and potentially dangerous access arrangements

Accepted practice:

’we’ve always done it that way’

Reinforcement of at-risk behaviour by the actions of supervisors:

This may also undermine employees’ confidence in the management’s commitment to manage concerns such as safety
Misunderstanding at-risk behaviour: employees may be unaware, or have a low perception, of the risks associated with a particular task or activity.

This could be due to insufficient information or training

Instinctive risk-taking behaviour: some people are more naturally inclined than others to take risks.

The key to reinforcing safe behaviours (good habits) and removing or reducing unsafe ones (bad habits) lies in identifying those behaviours which are critical to safety and then in carrying out regular observations to monitor them.

A determination and belief that no one should have to be injured, or worse in the course of their work.
The need of communication and worker engagement in reporting near hits/misses, as a positive
means of preventing ill-health and severe accidents and incidents.

75% of Accidents deemed Foreseeable.

If Foreseeable – Then they are Preventable!

A tool that helps to look at behavioral safety. STAARR

Stop – Before commencing the task
Think – about the task
Assess – the task – Control Measures in place?
Act – Do you need to look at additional controls?
Report – Problem encountered?
Review Actions?

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