Behavioral safety culture in the workplace: A complete guide

In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on creating a strong safety culture in the workplace. This is especially true for organizations that operate in high-risk industries such as construction and manufacturing...

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January 23, 2023
6 mins

Behavioral Safety Culture in the Workplace

In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on creating a strong safety culture in the workplace. This is especially true for organisations that operate in high-risk industries such as construction and manufacturing. 

Behavioral safety culture is an important part of this effort, as it involves ensuring that employees are aware of potential hazards and taking steps to prevent accidents and injuries.

The use of behavioral based safety (BBS) programs is becoming increasingly popular, as it focuses on creating a culture where safety is an integral part of the work process and employees are encouraged to look out for each other. 

Numerous studies have shown that behavioral based safety programs are more effective than simply telling employees to follow a set of safety guidelines. 

By focusing on creating a behavioral safety culture in the workplace, companies can focus on improving safety by helping employees change the way they think about risks and hazards in the workplace.

Understanding Behavioural Safety Culture

Behavioral safety culture is based on the idea that employees should be trained to recognize potential hazards and take proactive steps to reduce their risk of injury. 

It involves teaching workers about health and safety regulations, providing them with adequate protective equipment, and encouraging them to report any issues they may have. 

This type of culture also encourages workers to take ownership of their own safety by being mindful of their surroundings, following proper procedures, and speaking up when something doesn't seem right.

The Importance of Trust in Promoting Behaviour Based Safety

The goal of behavior based safety is to encourage everyone in the organization—from upper management all the way down to entry-level employees—to take responsibility for their own safety as well as that of their colleagues.

To create a positive safety culture, organizations should focus on establishing trust among workers, implementing effective policies and procedures, encouraging open communication between managers and employees, and reinforcing positive behaviors.

Trust is key when it comes to creating a successful behavioral safety culture. By building trust within your team, you can encourage employees to feel comfortable speaking up about any concerns or issues they may have related to their own health or the health of their peers.

Once trust has been established, policies and procedures should be implemented to ensure everyone is following the same protocols for safety.

Open communication between management and employees ensures that any questions about safety are addressed in an efficient manner as well as encourages employees to speak up if they see something potentially dangerous happening in their work environment.

How to Promote a Behavioural Safety Culture in the Workplace

According to research from the USA National Safety Council, behavioral based safety has been proven to be the most successful strategy for promoting safety in the workplace, with a 60% reduction in observable safety incidents in applications. 

Obviously, it’s not the only solution for establishing and promoting a behavioral safety culture. Other elements, such as using advanced tools and monitoring safety practices, are also critically important. 

There are several key elements that you need to focus on when designing and creating a behavioral-based safety culture in the workplace:

  1. Guiding employees to take a more proactive approach to risk prevention and workplace safety
  2. Holding employees accountable for the way they approach behavioral safety
  3. Using quantifiable data and metrics to measure safety performance and behavior

Creating a behavioral safety culture requires commitment from all levels of management—from executives all the way to frontline supervisors. 

It must be promoted from the top down so that everyone understands their role in ensuring the organization's success. 

There should also be clear lines of communication between departments so that any issues can be reported quickly and efficiently. 

Here are the steps that companies can take to design, create, and promote a behavioral safety culture in the workplace.

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Identifying Hazards in the Workplace

It’s imperative for companies to have a comprehensive list of all hazards that exist in the workplace. Creating a process for hazard identification is critically important, as it can help prevent dangerous accidents. 

The first step in identifying workplace hazards is to conduct regular inspections of the area. This should include physical inspections as well as reviewing any relevant safety data, such as accident reports and near-miss incidents. 

During these inspections, look for anything that could be a potential hazard, such as malfunctioning equipment or areas that are not adequately lit or ventilated.

Categorizing Hazards

It’s also important for companies to take steps to categorize different hazards in the workplace. Here are some common types of hazards that EHS teams need to consider:

Physical Hazards: These are caused by the physical environment or from contact with machinery and equipment. Common examples include slips, trips, falls, burns, crushing injuries, electric shock, and more.

Biological Hazards: These are living organisms that can cause infections or illnesses in humans. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, mould, parasites—these are all examples of biological hazards found in many workplaces.

Chemical Hazards: These can be found anywhere from manufacturing plants to laboratories to office buildings. Such hazards can come from chemical spills or leaks as well as exposure to hazardous materials like asbestos or lead paint.

Observe Existing Work Safety Behaviors

The next step is to identify work safety behaviours that need to be altered. The best way to observe existing safety behaviors is by conducting regular safety audits. 

During these audits, EHS teams should observe workers in their natural environment, paying special attention to how they interact with machines and equipment, as well as how they approach tasks.

This will help you identify any potential hazards or risks associated with the job at hand and determine if there are any areas where training could be beneficial. Additionally, it will help you identify any unsafe habits or behaviors that may have been overlooked in the past.

Another important part of observing existing safety behaviors is engaging with employees directly. Talk to them about their job duties, health and safety concerns, and anything else that might come up during the conversation. 

Ask questions about how they perform certain tasks, what risks they perceive in their day-to-day operations, and what suggestions they have for improving work conditions. 

By engaging with employees directly, you’ll get a better understanding of their individual perspectives on health and safety issues in the workplace.

Workplace Safety Monitoring Using Technological Solutions

Workplace safety monitoring is an important part of analyzing worker behavior. Technology solutions can also be used for workplace safety monitoring more effectively.

For example, many companies are now using wearable technology to track employee activity in real time. This type of technology can alert supervisors if an employee has been inactive or exposed to dangerous conditions for too long. 

Additionally, there are software solutions available that allow you to monitor the performance of your team in real time, so you can identify any potential risks before they become serious problems.  

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) for workplace safety monitoring is becoming increasingly common. Companies can now leverage advanced technologies such as deep learning and computer vision to collect video evidence and improve workplace safety monitoring. 

Protex AI is an advanced workplace safety solution that can be connected to any existing CCTV infrastructure. It allows companies to gather video evidence about safety behaviors in the workplace, including unsafe event capture. 

EHS teams can build their own rules, allowing them to customize the risk threshold based on the work environment. It offers extensive support for safety auditing, allowing EHS teams to gain easy access to all unsafe events captured on video. 

This improves safety reporting throughout the organization, and makes it easy for EHS teams to adopt a more data-driven approach when changing the culture around safety in an organization. 

Introduce New Safety Behaviors

Real-time monitoring of the workplace is a great way to understand general employee behavior around safety. The next step is to introduce new safety behaviors, and make sure that they stick.

Once you’ve identified new, low-risk safety behaviors, it’s important to start by creating a plan for implementing them. 

This should include all relevant stakeholders, such as management, supervisors, HR, and EHS teams. When creating this plan, consider how much time you’ll need to introduce the new behaviors and what resources you have available to support this process. 

Consider any potential challenges or obstacles that may arise when introducing these new behaviors and create solutions for them ahead of time.

Once you have a plan in place, it’s important to communicate with all relevant stakeholders about what changes are happening and why they are necessary. 

Make sure everyone understands why these safety behaviors are being introduced and how they will benefit everyone involved. Encourage questions so that people feel comfortable voicing their concerns or suggestions. 

If possible, provide examples of how these changes can be implemented in practice so that people have a better understanding of what is expected from them moving forward. 

Before introducing any new safety behavior, it’s important that everyone understands why the change is necessary. This means educating all of your employees on the risks associated with a particular task. 

It’s important for employees to understand how they can improve on existing processes, and why that change is necessary. With the help of real-time monitoring solutions like Protex AI, companies can gather video evidence that can be used for training too. 

Employees can be shown videos about how certain processes can be improved, for instance. It’s important for management and EHS teams to answer any questions and approach this as an open dialogue so employees can feel accountable for their own safety behavior.

Provide Adequate Resources

Introducing a new safety behavior may require additional resources such as training materials, protective gear, or signage too. It’s important to make sure that resources are available for all employees, especially when you’re trying to reinforce new safety behaviors. 

If people feel unprepared or ill-equipped for a task, they are less likely to do it correctly or consistently - resulting in potential risks for themselves and others around them. But, using signage and providing access to training materials, as well as protective gear, can help reinforce safety behaviors much quicker.

Measuring Safety Performance

Measuring safety performance is an important part of any effective safety program. It allows EHS teams to identify trends, track progress, and make the necessary adjustments in order to meet safety goals.

When you introduce new safety behaviors in the organization, it’s also important that you measure safety performance to determine its effectiveness. Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) is important for this purpose. 

KPIs should be specific, measurable goals that are easy to track and monitor over time. For example, a KPI could be “reduce workplace injuries by 10%” or “ensure all employees complete their required OSHA training within 30 days of hire.” 

These types of KPIs provide a clear goal for the organization and will help them easily track their progress towards achieving it.

In addition to tracking KPIs, organizations should also use incident rate calculations to measure safety performance. Incident rates allow you to compare your organization’s rate of incidents relative to industry standards or other benchmarks.

Common incident rate calculations include Lost Time Injury Frequency Rates (LTIFR), Total Recordable Incident Rates (TRIR), and Severity Rates (SR). All three of these metrics provide valuable insight into an organization’s overall safety performance.

Use Protex AI to Improve Safety Monitoring in the Workplace and Foster a Safety-First Culture

Protex AI is one of the best tools for organizations looking to introduce a culture around behavior-based safety. It empowers EHS teams by giving them access to crucial video evidence, allowing them to analyze unsafe events, understand what caused them, and then focus on educating employees.

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