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Ask an Expert: What is the Role of Management in a Behavioral Safety Process?

by Grainne A. Matthews, Ph.D., Vice President Construction and Utilities

The role of management in your behavioral safety process depends on what you are trying to achieve with that process. If you plan to use behavioral safety as part of your efforts to improve your safety culture, then members of your supervision and management teams will be equal partners with employees in the design, rollout, and maintenance of your process. They will not only need to do the same things that other employees do to make behavioral safety a success, they will also play a unique role that only supervisors and managers can play.  Like other employees, they will conduct observations, provide feedback, and serve as members of the steering team that analyzes the observation data to identify barriers to safe behavior.  In their special role as leaders, depending on their position, they may also do the following:

 Implement the safety recommendations of the steering team based on the observation data.

  • Fund the individual recognition and group celebration activities and play whatever role the steering team asks them to play, such as delivering awards.
  • Schedule steering team members for their meetings and ensure the team has all the resources it needs to be effective, such as data-management systems that produce the necessary reports.
  • Remove barriers that might prevent people from participating.
  • Make regular and visible statements of support for the process.

Quality Safety Edge specializes in using behavioral safety to go beyond the basics of observing behavior. Most of our clients are interested in achieving the “Interdependent” maturity level in the Safety Culture Maturity Model where employees and management work collaboratively to promote safe and reliable operations. The few suggestions mentioned here for management are derived from observing the managers in our client companies that are achieving mature safety cultures. They are true safety leaders.

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