An injury-free workplace requires attention to three basic domains: the environment (including tools, equipment, and climate of the work setting), the person (including attitudes, beliefs, and personalities of the employees), and behavior (including safe and at-risk work practices, as well as intervening for a coworker's safety). These factors are interactive, dynamic, and reciprocal. Influencing one factor eventually has impact on the other two. For example, changes in the environment have indirect effects on peoples' behaviors and attitudes, and behavior change usually results in attitude change and some change in the environment.
Thus, to achieve and maintain an injury-free workplace, employees need to address each of these domains daily during the development, implementation, and evaluation of intervention strategies to remove environmental hazards, decrease at-risk behaviors, increase safe behaviors, and provide more user-friendly or ergonomically-sound work stations.
People-based safetyTM applies the psychology of human dynamics to enrich the culture in which people work, thereby improving job satisfaction, work quality and production, interpersonal relationships, and occupational health and safety. Most organizations that have implemented a behavior-based observation and feedback process have made great strides in achieving an injury-free workplace. However, the typical behavior-based approach does not address the person domain of safety, including people's attitudes, beliefs, and personalities.
People-Based SafetyTM strategically integrates the best of behavior-based and person-based safety, as reflected in the acronym ACTS - Acting, Coaching, Thinking, and Seeing. These components of the next wave in improving the human dynamics of occupational safety are summarized in this paper.
"Behavior modification"-a top-down, controlling and manipulative term I find obnoxious-does not reflect the behavioral principles of People-Based Safety. But the fact is "behavior modification" is used all too often in the safety and health field. Some people use the term to refer to the popular "behavior-based" approach to industrial safety and health. Others use the label to dismiss the behavior-based approach in favor of strategies that sound better, like improving attitudes, building awareness, changing culture, and optimizing systems.
The broad principles of People-Based Safety do in fact address management systems, as well as the inner dimensions of people, such as attitudes and belief. Using people-based principles appropriately builds feelings of self-esteem, personal control, optimism, empowerment, and belongingness. They increase the willingness of workers to actively care for the safety and health of others. People who know these principles would never use the term "behavior modification."