Don’t let attention slip: implementing a behavioral consistency program in practice

Peter Brokaar, Manager Health & Safety, Industrial Products, Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Drachten discusses his experiences in realizing enduring safety behavior. “When we first started introducing safety programs, we saw a significantly lower number of incidents and accidents in the workplace. However, we saw gradual changes occur after the introduction of these programs.”

Conditions for a successful behavioral program:

Lead by example

“Cultural change takes a long time and requires exemplary behavior from senior management. Behavior-based safety places a great deal of emphasis on management behavior. How do they manage their departments and arrange their processes? If management doesn’t remain focused on safety, there is a big chance that their colleagues will also lose focus and you will see a rise in the number of accidents.”

“Behaviors need to become engrained, and safety needs to be given constant attention. Every day we start our meetings with the topic of safety. It is a focus for our executives. Safety has always been an important part of Lean, and Lean 6S (6th S for Safety) has really put it on the map. In Lean training sessions, Safety is discussed extensively. The visual management tool is very useful.”

Keep the dialogue going

“Attention is essential, so dialogues between managers and employees are important. In practice that means consistently giving attention to people and actively checking whether they’ve really understood the points being discussed. It also means looking at colleagues throughout the chain of command, trying to find things which are clearly unsafe, investigate even the smallest incidents thoroughly, search for root causes and take a positive approach.”

Education and awareness

“Human behavior may be influenced to some degree, but only to a point. Training and education of managers, as well as other employees, is very important in this context. Instead of just pointing out risks, people need to be able to see risks themselves, discuss these and come up with solutions together. Personally, I believe it is good to teach people to be resilient. We shouldn’t aim at eliminating every risk they might ever face, but instead teach them to deal with process interruptions.”

“In our opinion, to have a successful Behavior Based Safety program, you have to make sure the overall circumstances are right. From top to bottom and vice versa. Everybody must stick to the goal: ‘Safety is what we breathe’.

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