Are your employees walking around the job site with a stack of paper cards in their back pocket and a pencil in their front? If you know this scenario, chances are your company has a Behavior Based System (BBS) and overarching safety policy. The problems with BBS systems revolve around the latency of data, manual process, and standalone mentality of implementation. Below is a generic description of some, not all, BBS systems in operation. If this description fits your organization, please read further for a few suggestions on how to improve your processes and environment. If you are happy with your current BBS system, I applaud you and your company’s efforts in successfully doing what many others have not.
In the opening paragraph I described a scene of workers carrying around pencils and paper to record safety information. Those cards (whether it be a JSA, Hazard Hunt, or any other safety record) are then manually entered into a computer at the end of the shift, week, or even worse, after they are mailed into a corporate office. This data is then stored for consumption and reporting in (usually) a standalone system that does not communicate with other company systems such as HR, Finance, Logistics, ERP, etc. While the safety records are retained, reporting is often an arduous and manual process. JSA, incidents, and other safety records are stored in the company BBS system; HR records are stored in another system; and financial records for incentives are stored in another system. All of this data is usually manually retrieved and manipulated through an Access database or Excel spreadsheet to produce reports about the previous month. The problem being, even if this process wasn’t costly and time consuming, the data is still a month old! This means that any action taken resulting from the information reported is at least a month late, an eternity in safety terms.
To start the roadmap to a “better” BBS system one should follow the proven process of diagnose, analyze, design, and develop. Diagnose your BBS system’s problem areas by talking to users, managers, and stakeholders to identify the processes and pain points to compile and move the data from the very beginning (job site) to the very end (report and archive). Analyze your options for each problem area, such as using a mobile device with an application instead of paper and pencil to manually fill out forms; or a simple option of sending data to an administrator for compiling instead of Director of HSE. Design how your process will look after you have decided which changes to implement (remember to make the changes with feedback from your users, managers, and stakeholders). Develop the new process by actually making the agreed upon changes. And one last thing, Communicate! Solicit feedback on your changes and constantly communicate with your BBS system users, managers, and stakeholders. Involving the organization in every step of the process increases the chance of success and helps you help them.
BBS systems are a very valuable tool for any organization managing its safety culture. As with all complex systems, it is important to pay attention to your processes and continuously improve them. Once your whole organization is involved it is much easier to make changes and your chances of success increase dramatically. Technology is a great enabler or process change, but only if the users adopt it!