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Behavior Based Safety And Your Plant

When considering creating a culture of safety in manufacturing, the question that should be asked is how can behavior based safety and your plant be intertwined?

People do things for a reason.Sometimes they don't even know why they do the things they do, but there is always a reason behind the actions and that includes engaging in unsafe behavior.The idea behind behavior based safety is that someone gathers data about what is going on in the work area, what accidents have happened and why they have happened.Once the data is gathered and analyzed, then the behaviors can be modified.

The hardest thing for anyone to do is to change another person's behavior.That is why it is important to have buy-in from everyone involved in the company from the CEO to the people at the lowest level of the company.If the CEO says that he likes the idea and then proceeds to enter a hard hat area without a hard hat, t initiative to make changes around safety will be seen as one of those company initiatives without any teeth.Employees at any level do not respond to the "do as I say not as I do" school of thought any more.(It is doubtful whether anyone actually responded well to parents who come from this school of thought either.)

While it is important that upper management really put actions, words and money behind the initiative to improve safety, it is also important that employees at every level have a leadership role when the behavior based safety initiative is started, evaluate and implemented.Without this type of leadership, upper management can do whatever they want and face delays, and foot dragging from below.

There are many ways to garner support, and each way may be appropriate for use in the business.Some people like to know the facts - if there were seven deaths or 57 injuries last year on the factory floor the company should explain that those injuries are part of the reason why the program is being implemented.Giving people a reason to believe in the program involves more than just the bottom line unless it directly affects the employees' paychecks as well.If everyone involved in the program is going to save $20 a month of the insurance premiums, which can motivate people to change behavior.

Once support is available throughout the company, it is important to look at the reasons why people are participating in unsafe work practices.Do employees smoke because that is the only way that they can be assured of getting a break?If so, then managers need to take steps to ensure that all employees are getting their breaks whether or not they smoke.Do employees avoid putting on safety gear because it takes too long, because it is uncomfortable or because it is dirty?Then the company needs to address those problems.

Whatever the reasons for not doing something safety related, the company needs to eliminate those reasons to give people a reason to change their behaviors, but even that is not going to be enough.If someone who is required to wear a mask is claustrophobic, the company is not going to be able to help that person modify his or her behavior through physical implementation of mechanical means.

That means that effective education programs need to be put into place followed with appropriate rewards for proper behaviors and disciplines for those behaviors that are not wanted.Creating a culture of safety with behavior modification can create lasting effects, but it may be one of the hardest things that a company has ever done.

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