If your employer is looking at introducing these programs – what can you do?
- Be prepared: know what a Behaviour Based Safety program is, why it may be attractive and what the problems are. Read the background material and maybe do some of the exercises in Section 3.
- Ask lots of questions: Don't agree to anything that might sound like a BBS Program this. See below (Be Cautious) for suggested questions.
- Insist that the employer consults with Health and Safety Reps, as the law says they must: use your rights to be consulted prior to any change, which may have an effect on health and safety at the workplace; as both the H&S Committee or as individual H&S Reps. Part 4 of the OHS Act, puts a legal duty on employers to consult with H&S Reps and workers on a wide range of matters, including 'the measures to be taken to control risks to health or safety'.
- Contact your union if you are unsure about what it is that your employer is trying to do.
- Make sure accidents, incidents, near misses as well as work overload, fatigue or arrangements unsafe shifts are reported. These are all health and safety risks.
- Ensure H&S Reps are informed and have access to the Injury and Incident Registers
- Ensure your reporting and accident investigations are thorough and involve workers and H&S Reps.
- Talk amongst yourselves, with the union delegates and the members about the program, decide what you are going to do, eg mass meetings to discuss what the program means.
- Decide what your workplace health and safety system should look like; use the checklist on How does your workplace score? This list helps show where you can do better.
- Put your proposal (from point 8) to the employer. This will help you challenge their or their consultant's assertion that the BBS program is the magic silver bullet for health and safety.
Be Cautious - Ask lots of questions!
If your employer wishes to introduce one of these programs or your workplace already has one, it is useful to ask the following questions.
IF you answer YES to any of the following: then the proposal is about shifting responsibilities towards workers:
- Are there any disciplinary features or individual rewards for lack of accidents/incidents, etc?
- Does the plan involve observing others working ?
- Does the plan involve observing only workers? (ie, there is no plan to observes managers, owners, directors, the CEO or the Board's activities)
- Has there been a visit by consultants marketing behavioural safety systems (or talking about the 'next' step in the OHS – looking at unsafe behaviours)?
- Is there a Lost Time Injury reward system ( eg if an injury is reported then everyone loses the chance to enter the raffle, team or coach of the month etc)?
- Does the program use language like: antecedents or activators, behaviours, consequences ('ABC'); Positive, Soon or Certain consequences; at-risk behaviour ; workplace or safety culture; key performance indicators and behaviours?
- Is management suggesting a program like DuPont or B- Safe or some wizz bang fix it all program?
IF you answer NO to any of the following: then the proposal is about blaming workers!
- When giving examples of how the program works, do any of the examples of Key Behaviour Indicators refer to managers' behaviours?
- Will the plan allow a chain of events to be investigated?
- Do the observations include looking at risks that have health effects?. (What observations are being made for health effects?)
- Does the list of behaviour measures include management performance behaviours such as:
- Number of discussion per week between managers and employees where the main topic of conversation is safety?
- Percentage of agreed items that have been completed each week?
- Number of health and safety concerns that are resolved each week?
- Number of higher level hierarchy of control measures that are implemented every three months e.g. elimination; substitution; engineering controls; redesign, of plant, work layout or work flow?
"so if it is rat psychology, who is the Pied Piper and who are the rats?"
Cathy Walker. Canadian Auto Workers Union