Unlocking Safety Excellence: The Power of BBS Programs

Understanding the Meaning and Potential of Behavior-Based Safety

Key Takeaways:

  • Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) programs aim to transform an organization’s safety culture by focusing on changing work processes and management and employee behaviors.
  • BBS programs renew the emphasis on the human side of safety training, define safe and unsafe behaviors, encourage employee involvement, enhance accountability, and foster commitment and passion.
  • Designing a successful BBS program involves building a design team, identifying targeted behaviors, developing an observational checklist, establishing a measurement system, conducting behavioral observations, delivering feedback, utilizing data for process changes, and setting improvement goals.
  • BBS programs require a top-down approach with leadership leading by example to drive safety excellence.


Safety is a fundamental aspect of any organization, and ensuring the well-being of employees is of paramount importance. To achieve a higher level of safety excellence, many companies are turning to Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) programs. BBS programs go beyond traditional safety practices by focusing on changing behaviors and work processes to create a safer and more proactive work environment. In this article, we will explore the meaning and potential of BBS programs and how they can elevate safety standards within organizations.

Understanding Behavior-Based Safety

Behavior-Based Safety is a comprehensive approach to safety management that encompasses everything from basic behavior audits and feedback to transforming an organization’s safety culture. At its core, BBS involves the collective effort of an entire company, from management to frontline workers, to prioritize safety and promote safe behaviors. The goal is to create a work environment where safety is embedded in every aspect of operations.

The Power of BBS Programs

BBS programs bring several benefits and potential to organizations seeking safety excellence. Let’s explore some key elements and advantages of implementing a BBS program:

  1. Renewed Focus on the Human Side of Safety Training: BBS programs reinvigorate the human element in safety training. They emphasize the importance of individual behaviors, decision-making, and situational awareness, fostering a sense of personal responsibility for safety.
  2. Clear Definition of Safe and Unsafe Behaviors: By clearly defining safe and unsafe behaviors, BBS programs provide employees with tangible guidelines for their actions. This clarity helps create a common understanding and standard for safe practices across the organization.
  3. Encouragement of Safe Behaviors: BBS programs promote a positive safety culture by actively encouraging safe behaviors. Employees are recognized and rewarded for practicing safe habits, fostering a supportive environment that values safety-conscious actions.
  4. Involvement of Employees in Safety: Engaging employees in safety processes is a key aspect of BBS programs. By involving employees in the design, implementation, and observation phases, organizations tap into their valuable insights and experiences, empowering them to take ownership of safety initiatives.
  5. Enhanced Accountability for Safety in Management: BBS programs place a significant focus on safety accountability within the management tier. Leaders lead by example, demonstrating their commitment to safety and ensuring that safety expectations are consistently communicated and upheld.
  6. Generation of Commitment and Passion: BBS programs have the potential to ignite commitment and passion for safety among employees, especially during the early phases. When employees feel that their safety is valued and actively supported, they become more engaged and motivated to uphold safety standards.

Designing a Successful BBS Program

Designing and implementing a successful BBS program requires careful planning and collaboration. Here are the essential steps involved:

  1. Build a Design Team: Form a design team consisting of management representatives and frontline employees. This team will be responsible for designing the BBS system, ensuring that all employees are involved in the implementation.
  2. Identify Targeted Behaviors: Analyze data from safety audits, incident reports, near misses, workers’ compensation statistics, and safety meetings to identify areas for improvement. Focus on behaviors that can significantly impact safety and determine prevention efforts.
  3. Develop an Observational Checklist: Create a checklist of critical safe behaviors based on the targeted areas of improvement. The checklist should be concise, easily observable, and measurable. Test the checklist by observing employees and refining it as needed.
  4. Establish a Measurement System: Implement a measurement system to track safe and risky behaviors during observations. Frequency counts and positive reinforcement can be effective ways to measure and promote safe behaviors. Provide immediate feedback to observed employees and report overall site feedback at safety meetings.
  5. Conduct Behavioral Observations: Involve all employees in the observation process to enhance safety behaviors throughout the organization. Determine the frequency and scope of observations, considering departmental or cross-departmental observations. Include contractors if applicable.
  6. Deliver Feedback: Train observers to provide constructive feedback to observed employees. Feedback should focus on significant positive safety behaviors and areas for improvement. Timely feedback is crucial to reinforce safe practices and encourage corrective actions.
  7. Utilize Data for Process Changes: Regularly review and analyze data collected through observations. Identify trends, patterns, and opportunities for process improvements. Communicate changes to employees and involve them in the decision-making process.
  8. Set Improvement Goals: Encourage employee participation in goal setting based on current data. Establish realistic goals that focus on the behaviors and processes that lead to improved safety outcomes. Regularly review progress and provide feedback on individual and organizational achievements.


Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) programs offer organizations a powerful framework for elevating safety standards and fostering a proactive safety culture. By renewing the focus on human behaviors, defining safe practices, encouraging employee involvement, and enhancing accountability, BBS programs can significantly reduce incidents and create safer work environments. Designing a successful BBS program requires a top-down approach, with leadership leading by example and engaging employees at every level. The journey towards safety excellence is a continuous one, requiring ongoing evaluation, improvement, and the commitment of all stakeholders. With a well-designed BBS program in place, organizations can strive for a safer future, where every employee actively contributes to creating a culture of safety.

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