Appropriate recognition and reward plays a significant role in achieving permanent employee behavior change, and very importantly, in behavior change involving safety. However, traditional safety "incentive" programs have based recognition and rewards on all employees reaching a benchmark (or goal) on the lagging indicator of safety results. When recognition and rewards are based on everyone succeeding, negative peer pressure can occur, resulting in injury hiding. Even when individuals are rewarded for results only as opposed to being recognized for performing specific, safe behaviors, injury hiding may occur and good results-oriented safety data may not reflect the realities of the workplace.
Proactive, prevention-oriented processes that focus on identifying desirable safe behaviors and bringing those behaviors to habit level via constructive feedback and targeted positive reinforcement—behavior-based safety (BBS)—effectively produce employee behavior change without the unwanted side-effect of injury hiding. However, the inappropriate application of behavioral principles is common, thus leading to misconceptions about the efficacy of such processes. These misconceptions and misapplications must be addressed before a valid behavior-based safety (BBS) process can produce optimal and ongoing results.