Behavioral Based Safety

Behavioral Based Safety


Talking Safety with John Dyer

One of the primary tasks of every EH&S manager is implementing new ways of improving safety. Behavioral Based Safety (BBS) is just one such way Veolia is leading the industry, by developing new safety techniques and processes that help employees prevent injury to themselves as well as coworkers and customers. BBS was developed to help companies be proactive, rather than reactive, with anything related to safety. Traditionally, an injury must occur before the system can react, and safety is measured based on lagging indicators, such as accident rates. BBS is proactive, encouraging employees to stop a job whenever they spot potentially unsafe conditions. This approach rewards employees for being safe, rather than focusing on punishing them after an accident occurs.

A good safety culture is based on trust

 “The most important factor that has to be present in order to build a culture of safety is the trust of the employees. They must be confident that management is committed to the program and will take all of their concerns seriously. Any Veolia employee has the ability to stop any job at any time, and it’s an open door policy, which means that any employee can approach any manager at any level at any time to talk about safety concerns.
“The employees also have to trust that the program exists for their benefit. What are they going to get out of it? What is this program going to do for them? A good safety culture means that workers see value in always being vigilant, watching out not only for themselves but also for their fellow workers. They should see value in going above and beyond and doing the little things that may get lost in the day-to-day work.
“BBS is driven by positive reinforcement. If someone is seen being a leader or doing something correctly, they are recognized. Examples might include practicing proper ergonomics while lifting a box, noticing drums are not correctly closed before picking them up for shipment, or inspecting safety equipment for wear. The program also goes beyond simple verbal recognition. There is a point system that rewards employees for identifying unsafe conditions, unsafe acts and good jobs  and employees can use those points to get Veolia gear.”

Program implementation

“I started the BBS program in the Mid-Atlantic branch four years ago, and last year was the first time it went companywide for the EH&S program. Just like any other training tool, it has to be learned, it has to be taught, and it has to be trained upon. It can’t be forced on an employee. Employees want to know that management has their back and that they can speak up at any time.
“When we first rolled out the program, it definitely engaged employees across the board and pulled them out of their comfort zone and into other areas that they may not have been involved. Now, employees are performing facility safety inspections, conducting training sessions and safety audits, and they are finding the ‘smalls,’ as I call them—housekeeping issues, slip and trip hazards, and they’re fixing them and correcting them.”

- John Dyer, Director of Health and Safety for Veolia North America

Learn the results next month as our interview concludes