Unraveling the Layers of Behaviour Based Safety: A Comprehensive Understanding of BBS and its Impact on Workplace Safety

Emphasizing Employee Behavior: A Deeper Dive into the Complex yet Rewarding World of Behaviour Based Safety

Key Takeaways:

  • Behaviour Based Safety (BBS) is a process that enhances workplace safety by focusing on the daily safety behaviour of workers.
  • Implementing a BBS program involves conducting safety reviews or observations, with observers providing constructive feedback.
  • A well-crafted checklist is an integral part of a BBS program, providing observers with a quick reference guide to assess safety behaviours.
  • A BBS program’s effectiveness is determined by continuously analysing observation data and improving upon identified safety gaps.
  • Although not explicitly required by OSHA, a robust BBS program helps organizations adhere to recommended safety practices.

Behaviour Based Safety (BBS): Fostering a Culture of Safety

Behaviour Based Safety, abbreviated as BBS, is a process that brings together management and employees in enhancing the overall safety of the workplace. This systematic approach aims to increase workers’ focus on their own and their peers’ safety behaviour on a daily basis. The ultimate objective of implementing a BBS program is to elevate the organization’s employee safety standards, consequently creating a safer and more productive work environment.

Observations: The Bedrock of a BBS Program

The core component of a BBS program is the “observation,” a systematic process in which trained employees (referred to as observers) scrutinize the behaviours of their co-workers, noting down both safe and unsafe practices, and reviewing the safety conditions of the workplace. The observers then share their findings with the observed worker, offering feedback.

In this context, positive reinforcement plays a crucial role. When observers discuss how tasks could be performed more safely, both parties gain enhanced awareness about their actions and the potential safety implications. Consequently, this open line of communication facilitates continuous improvement, promoting a culture of safety within the organization.

The Behavior Based Safety Checklist: A Vital Tool

One of the first steps in implementing a BBS program involves developing a checklist that clearly outlines the behaviours to be observed. This checklist, tailored to the unique behavioural dynamics and risks of the organization, provides a quick, easy-to-use guide for observers conducting reviews in the field.

For instance, in an organization with a vehicle fleet, the checklist could focus on common driver behaviours like seatbelt usage and signal compliance. In addition to the specifics of the observation (time, date, location, behaviours observed, observer), the checklist often includes the number of safe and unsafe observations, and fields for feedback and comments provided to the employee.

Based on the organization’s BBS goals and objectives, a schedule for observations can be developed, outlining the frequency and type of observations to be conducted. However, as checklists and schedules become more intricate, managing them may become more challenging, which is when the use of technology can help streamline the process without compromising the effectiveness of the BBS program.

OSHA’s Stance on BBS Programs

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) doesn’t explicitly require organizations to implement a BBS program, it does recommend practices that involve employee and managerial participation in safety and hazard identification. By offering numerous opportunities for employee and managerial involvement in the safety process, a well-implemented BBS program can assist organizations in achieving these recommended safety goals.

Measuring the Success of a BBS Program

Determining the success of a BBS program involves continuous, real-time review and analysis of the observation data collected by the observers. One common measure of success is the “percent safe” metric, calculated by dividing the number of safe observations by the total number of observations conducted. An increase in the percent safe observations suggests a successful BBS program.

Organizations may also consider incident rates, with a decline in these rates indicating a safer work environment as the percentage of safe behaviours increases. Furthermore, organizations often conduct surveys and interviews to gauge the BBS program’s impact on the safety culture and employee morale.


Behaviour Based Safety represents an insightful approach to improving workplace safety by fostering a culture that encourages safety consciousness at an individual and collective level. While the process may be complex, involving regular observations, detailed checklists, and data analysis, the benefits—improved safety practices, reduced incident rates, and enhanced morale—make it a valuable investment. By placing a spotlight on individual behaviour and promoting open communication, BBS creates a healthier, safer work environment. Ultimately, the success of a BBS program lies not just in its implementation, but also in its continuous evolution, driven by the shared commitment of both employees and management to prioritizing safety.

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