Behavior Based Safety (BBS) & the BBS Observation (BBO)

Hewitt RobertsBehavior based safety, EHS Software, Safety inspection, Safety observationLeave a Comment


Behavior Based Safety (BBS) is a safety management discipline based on the premise that a worker’s behavior is the root cause of many, if not most, workplace incidents and injuries. BBS involves observing employees in the workplace and attempts to influence safer behavior through coaching and educating employees to make safer decisions about their actions.

Behavior Based Safety for Lasting & Positive Effects on Safety

At its core, behavior based safety (BBS) is a scientific approach to understanding and altering human behavior in the workplace to improve safety performance. Underlying this approach is the concept that human behavior, actions and interactions are the root cause of many of safety issues and workplace accidents, injuries and incidents.

A behavior based safety program is a key component of any wider EHS management or safety management system that records safety observations, collates observation data to provide safety metrics and trends to influence decision-making and direct safety and EHS initiatives, priorities and programs to improve overall safety (and behavioral safety) in the workplace.

Typically, a BBS program:Behavior based safety observation

  1. Involves safety personnel – and other employees – observing the workplace activities of workers to identify unsafe behaviors and any actions that may lead to unsafe outcomes;
  2. Aims to understand what is causing the unsafe behaviors;
  3. Implements training, awareness and incentives to eliminate the causes of unsafe behaviors and ultimately replace unsafe behaviors with safe ones.

The BBS Observation

At the heart of behavior-based safety process is the safety observation. As the foundation of improved safety is safety leaders / mentors observing employee behavior, identifying unsafe behaviors – such as dangerous process shortcuts or not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) – and through real-time employee engagement with co-workers, provide recommendations and positive reinforcement aimed at interventions and altering critical behavior before accidents or incident occurs.

Although a ‘BBS Observation’ will vary depending on the workplace environment, the nature of the work being done and the people involved, BBS observations will typically cover or observe a worker in relation to:

  • Ergonomics
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Tools & equipment
  • Work environment
  • Procedures (and how they are followed)
  • Lock-out/tag-out
  • Fall protection
  • Chemical use

If done effectively, a BBS program can have long-lasting and extraordinarily positive effects on the safety performance of a company and its employees.

You may also be interested in:

BBS Observation Checklist

Behavior Based Safety Observations

Tips to Increase the Buy-in and Effectiveness of a BBS Program

How to Measure the Success of a BBS Program


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