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Behavioural Safety

Behavioural Based Safety is an approach to safety that focuses on workers' behaviour as the cause of most work-related injuries and illnesses. It is estimated that up to 96% of workplace injuries are caused by unsafe behaviour. Armed with these statistics, it has become apparent that accident reduction and improving safety performance can only be achieved by systematically focusing upon safety behaviour in the workplace.

Looking at the impact that unsafe work practices have on Machinery and Process Safety we begin to see that an initial investment in improving behaviour and practices in the workplace significantly outweighs the cost of ‘fixing’ the problem later.

According to Health & Safety Authority Research, when calculating the costs resulting from accidents, employers often fail to include productivity costs and therefore underestimate the total figure. As well as personal injury claim compensation other costs can include replacement staff or overtime payments, production and productivity losses, retraining costs, repair bills, medical & travel expenses and increased supervision.

A manufacturing company with 1,400 staff introduced a behavioural safety programme and gained:
• improved productivity – the number of work days lost through injury per year dropped from 550 to 301 in four years
• improved public image – the company’s managers have given presentations at major behavioural safety conferences
• staff development – many observers have improved communications and IT skills and greater confidence.

(Source: HSC)

A behavioural safety programme at a petrochemicals plant brought economic benefits, including:
• a saving of £250,000 per year through early identification and repair of leaks
• a 32 per cent reduction in insurance premiums
• major reductions in operating costs as workers became more confident about identifying and dealing with problems themselves.
(Source: HSC)

As the severity of the accidents and incidents decrease, their frequency increases. To correctly apply any techniques of accident prevention, it is vital that we properly identify weaknesses in the organizational systems that have potential for loss.

Features of a comprehensive behavioural safety programme include: Assessment, Design, Implementation and Follow up.

For a discussion on how a Behavioural Based Safety approach can help increase productivity and reduce accidents and costs, please contact us.