People-Based Safety™ in action: 5 distinctions from behavior-based safety


In a Total Safety Culture, people Act to prevent injuries, Coach one another to identify barriers to safe acts and provide constructive behavior-based feedback, Think in ways that activate and support safe behavior, and focus and scan to See hazards. These four essentials of People-Based Safety™ — called “ACTS” — provide knowledge, skills, and tools to fully address the human dynamics of industrial safety.


It’s fitting the essentials of People-Based Safety™ (PBS) spell “ACTS,” because safety depends upon the actions of people. PBS targets attitudes, perceptions and thoughts to improve these “person states,” leading to changes in critical behaviors. If behavior or actions don’t improve — there is no bottom line benefit to safety.


People-Based Safety™ is no substitute for behavior-based safety (BBS), but rather extends BBS for greater impact. PBS teaches ways to self-coach and increase self-accountability for safety. Let’s look at five components of People-Based Safety™, all relating to actions, distinguishing PBS from BBS.


1. Self-directed behavior


A BBS observation-and-feedback process initiates and sustains otherdirected behavior. Workers increase safe behavior and decrease at-risk behavior because others — their peers — hold them accountable.


But people often work alone, and so they need to coach themselves. This requires self-accountability and self-directed behavior. People need to believe in and own the safe way of doing things.


Self-direction requires internal justification for the right behavior. This happens when external consequences supporting an action are not sufficient to totally justify the behavior. Too often people choose safe over at-risk acts only because they want to obtain a reward or avoid a penalty. These programs often get the desired behavior — while this accountability system is in place. But what happens when the external rewards or penalties are unavailable?


The key is not to over-justify safe behavior with large incentives and severe threats, but to provide education, training, and experience to help people develop a sense of personal control over preventing injuries. This includes understanding how habits can be undesirable when it comes to safety.

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