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Maintaining a Healthy BBS Process

In a recent Webinar, I attempted to address some of the issues that are facing the thousands of companies implementing behavior-based safety around the world. Anyone reading this knows that there are a multitude of problems, but if you look closely, and objectively, you can identify them fairly rapidly.

In my Webinar, I tried to identify with clients and prospective clients; I tried to present a perspective that served the listeners interests not a particular consulting companies interests.Yes, I am a broker for BBS services for more than one BBS consulting firm. I’ve worked with many others, so I am not completely without bias, but I also have seen enough approaches to know that there is no one best way to implement and sustain a healthy BBS process.

If you read my blog, you will see that my 40 years of working inside business and industry has given me a view point that does not always align with any of the companies for whom I design methodologies or sell services. So if I see something being done that is not in the best interest of the client, I say so. The people who work with me tolerate me for some unknown reason.

There is no “one way” to implement behavior-based safety, and using a large consulting company or a college professor does not guarantee that you are getting the best advice.In the questions that I saw from the Webinar there were some central themes that reappeared and I will address one later in the blog.

Within a week, I am will have a website operational at On this website, anyone can register and enter a question about the BBS process. If you have a home grown process and people have lost interest - you can ask about it. If your company is downsizing and people have become too distracted to participate, then ask “We have lain off half our employees; how do I keep them interested in observations when they are afraid of losing their jobs?”

On this website, people from around the world can provide you with an answer – their answer. Some may be off base, but I bet there are thousands of companies in the same boat.Maybe you will get a solution; maybe just empathy – but the answers you get from other concerned BBS implementers are bound to be helpful. I am trying to create an international BBS user’s group – a learning laboratory that will allow you to accelerate your learning without the bias of a consulting company’s self-interest.

I would guess that BBS consulting service providers will be join in to answer questions. That’s OK; you will get some free expert advice and you will just have to sort through the self-interest to get to the wisdom. BBS is about the wisdom of the group – the value of using front-line employee experience and intelligence - the value of implementing a system that enables employees to help each other.

One question that I expect to see often on the website will be about lone workers. Many businesses and industries have employees that work alone, and now that we are in an economic crisis many more employees will be working alone.

Everyone knows that pilots use checklists to ensure that they do everything they are supposed to do; they have a lot of responsibility and they can’t afford a mistake.Before the space shuttle takes off, the astronauts go through a long checklist to ensure that nothing if overlooked.

For many years, I have been advising clients to enable all employees to create and apply behavioral checklists – to include behaviors that are critical to performance and/or safety.If employees are allowed to work together to identify critical behaviors, then those behaviors can be self-tracked. These types of checklists are powerful tools to help employees do things everyone thinks is important.

In a BBS process a lone workers checklist should be shorter than the typical peer-to-peer safety observation checklist. Make them short and sweet – just prompt the employee to self-observe for the behaviors that historical data and situational factors tell you are essential.

Usually the self-observation is prompted by a call on the cell from someone or they are beeped by the dispatcher. If the employee is driving, you can used a visual cue to prompt them to do a self-inventory of their driving behavior – like, when you see a Starbucks sign check your speed or the distance to the car in front of you.

Make sure you use the data positively. Reinforce employees for doing their checklists. If you punish them when they record an omission or an unsafe behavior, then they will pencil-whip the card next time.Reinforce them for doing the self-observations and you will see that they will self-manage the at-risk behavior.

Intermittently, you can have someone “ride along” or pop in on someone working alone to do a safety observation. But the real emphasis should be on developing a checklist that includes the behaviors that put them at risk or the equipment or practices that will keep them safe. I’m sure if your reading this you have your own opinion or experience with “lone-workers,” and we will be able to hear them when