Key Takeaways

Behavior-based safety programs aim to improve worker safety and health by reducing erroneous behaviors. Behavior can be the outcome of internal beliefs, perceptions and attitudes often referred to as internal or person-based factors.

This article discusses different theoretical models to recognize and evaluate different person-based internal factors. It aims to identify a predictive factor that will help to reduce workers’ at-risk erroneous or critical behavior by reducing job stress and that will endorse behavioral safety as an outcome directly related to their tasks.

The authors suggest that utilizing job-specific skills at work would enable workers to reduce negative outcomes of psychosocial factors and, therefore, guarantee execution of expected behavior.

In medicine, human error reportedly contributes to more than 1 million injuries and between 44,000 and 98,000 deaths each year (Kohn, Corrigan & Donaldson, 2000). In occupational settings, workers’ erroneous behaviors are getting increasing attention because these behaviors contribute to avoidable injuries and illnesses. Gravina, King and Austin (2019) argue that behavior-based interventions can yield positive results but often suffer from poor leadership support (Sulzer-Azaroff & Austin, 2000).

Behavior-based safety (BBS) programs attempt to reduce workers’ critical behavior and ameliorate workers’ safety and health at the workplace. In the early 1970s, BBS programs gained attention because they had a direct effect on incident prevention (Guo, Goh & Wong, 2018; Nunu, Kativhu & Moyo, 2018). Yeow and Goomas (2018) studied BBS program effectiveness. The researchers granted small incentives to participants so that underreporting to gain large incentive could be avoided. The study suffered from the Hawthorne effect, where workers only performed safely in the presence of researchers and stopped continuing safe performance once the researchers left the site. Similarly, the safety climate on a construction site in China improved after implementation of a BBS program, but deteriorated soon after the program was completed (Zhang & Fang, 2013). Therefore, the authors of that study suggest that a continuous BBS strategy should be implemented and followed in management practice. BBS is popular and useful, but it deals with behavior that is more or less a symptom of internal perception; hence a behavioral safety program cannot be successful unless a change in internal perception takes place (Hopkins, 2006; Smith, 1999).

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