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How to Know When to Use a Freelance Behavior-Based Safety Consultant

In a Webinar I did on April 30th entitled, "BBS on Life Support: What to do when a BBS program sputters,” I recommended that companies whose BBS processes need oxygen should find a good freelance consultant to come in and help them identify strengths and weaknesses – barriers and opportunities. In other words, get an objective, third-party to do the diagnostics on your process.

This is the most economical way to solve the problem, and in today’s tight times, the people who write the checks will appreciate a frugal solution. But, you need an economic solution – not a cheap one. Safety is important and you don’t want to risk employees losing faith in the BBS process or thinking that you don’t care enough to do the right things to reinvigorate your BBS process.

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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.

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Behavioral Safety Observations: A Two Dimension Approach

Observational checklists are an important component of every behavior-based safety process, but there is a lot of variability in the items, the length of the observation list, and how the observations are accomplished.

  • Length – some observational checklists are several pages long; they are more like safety audits than behavioral observations, while other lists have as few as 3 or 4 behaviors.
  • Items – many observational lists have warnings, instructions, and practices; some have very specific behaviors – ergonomically precise.
  • Lists vary in focus; many check every possible combination of possibilities while other lists focus on at-risk behaviors that statistically have proven to be lead to employee injuries.
  • Some observations lists require 30 minutes plus to complete while the short behavioral list can take less than 30 seconds.
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Behavior-Based Safety Leadership for Dummies

Leadership gurus have made a fortune defining what leadership is and most men and women aspire to be identified as representative of the elevated stature associated with being a “leader.” Leaders have followers – they are purportedly charismatic and transformational. Managers have subordinates – they are transactional and influence through the authority provided them.

One recognizes that a transformational leader may also function as a manager, but the average manager cannot hope to attend a “leadership” course and learn how to be charismatic – how to inspire others to “follow” you. I hate to be cynical about something that on the surface appears to be a noble objective, but it is hard to overlook the facts: over the last thirty years the role of manager has been defined and redefined by book writers, consultants, and academics as facilitators, coaches, mentors, team leaders, servants, now leaders. The emphasis on leadership is likely to change its theme at any time.

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