What are Behavior Based Safety Observations (BBO/ BBS)?

What are Behavior Based Safety Observations (BBO/ BBS)?

Behavior Based Safety Observations are defined as "a process through which workgroups can identify, measure and change their behaviors." (The Constructions Owners Association of Alberta)

Behavior Based Safety Observations, BBS or BBO's are guided observations that provide an objective overview of how tasks are being completed and how workers are retaining safety training as they complete their tasks. Are old habits still prevailing? Are new employees and young workers being influenced by what they see others doing on the job site? Have safe work practices been embraced, and as result, are workers more aware of their safety and the safety of others? Behavioral observations are an invaluable resource for the continuous improvement of your company’s Safety Management System. By using a behavior based safety program, safety professionals and their teams are able to get real-time insight into ongoing problems while also observing the positive changes in work habits and consistency in safety awareness.


Behavior Based Safety Meaning - What Is A Behavior Based Safety Program?

Have you attempted to implement a behavioral observation program and could not get buy-in from your team?

Did you and your team know what behavioral observations are and how you can develop, train and implement a behavior based safety training program at your company?

I know the first time that I was trained in the process it didn't stick. I didn't see the value, it was just extra work and I already had more work to do in a day than I could handle. 

Fast forward 10 years and countless conversations with other Safety Professionals and it is pretty clear there is a huge value in a strong behavioural based safety program. 

The hardest part of any new program is delivering the “Why we are doing it” and the “Value it will have to our team”. 

How do you communicate this to your team if you haven’t quite figured this out? 

Step one is to get a clear and concise summary of what a behavior based safety Observations Program is so that you can communicate this in a way that matters to your stakeholders. 

Every good safety person has to learn sales!!!


My name is David Brennan and I am a Safety professional and the CEO of Safety Evolution. In this video, I will tell you about some of the challenges that I faced and some tips and tricks on how to get started or move your Behavioral Based Safety Observation Program to the next level.



Who Should Perform Behavior Based Safety Observations?

As you heard from the video, a behavior based safety program is essentially a team effort. However, training in the behavioral observation process must be completed by those conducting the observations. Not only must you know what to look for, but you must also know how to explain the behavioral observation process and goals to those being observed. Don’t rush in with “Hob-nailed boots” on this one! Training and preparation are the keys to making behavior based safety observations work for you!

The safety professional along with supervisors conduct the observation and check off the boxes but it is the involvement of the workers that makes the behavior based safety program a success. It is very important that you have laid a good foundation of trust and understanding prior to performing behavior based observations. Let workers know about the purpose and expected value of the program in the toolbox and safety meetings. 

Make sure that the behavior based safety observations are never seen as “Rat Card” or a way to find fault or catch people making errors. Get past that stigma right out of the gate! 

Always let the workers know when you are performing a BBS cards! No surprises, please!  Engage them in discussion before and after. Encourage their input in areas that require improvement. Celebrate the positive behavior based safety observations! 


Shift From A Stressful To A Meaningful Behavior-Based Safety Program

In previous blogs, we have taken a close look at merging production and safety in the workplace. Safety Tips: Who Is Responsible For Safety In The Workplace?

We have looked at ways to build a safety culture that strives for continuous improvement. Safety Moment - Why Safety Professionals Need to Start Celebrating Wins!

Small steps bring big results. 

Any change in the day-to-day routine of the workplace can put workers on edge and develop stress. Especially if they feel that their work is coming under scrutiny! Move forward with the introduction of the behavior based safety program in a way that brings clarity to its purpose and goals. 

One of the major benefits of embarking on a behavior based safety observations program is the move away from “reactive safety” where changes are made after the fact ( after an incident happens) to a pro-active safety program where safety observations and changes are made BEFORE an accident happens. The BBS observation is an integral part of incident and injury prevention.

Bring your workers into ownership of the successes. Encourage worker input when corrective actions result from a behavior based safety examples. Ask them for suggestions on how the job or task could have been done more safely and how to ensure it is done safely in the future. Your workforce is a wealth of experience and insight. 


How Safety Software Can Help With The Data Collected From Behavior Based Safety Observations Program

One of the biggest challenges of running a behavior based safety observation program is the amount of paperwork, tracking, and information gathering that is required. 

This in itself can stop a program from ever adding value to your company. 

One of the very first processes that we built into the Safety Evolution Software was a Behavioral Based Safety Observation and Hazard Identification form with trending and automatic corrective actions. 


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