5 Keys to a Successful
Behavior-Based Construction Safety Program
January 27, 2022
The goal behind a behavior-based safety (BBS) program for construction businesses is to influence employees’ behaviors in an effort to more easily prevent accidents or injuries before they happen. This is a major need in today’s market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 2.1 million cases of non-fatal occupational events in 2020 requiring days away from work, with a median average absence of 12 days. These kinds of statistics not only impact your teams personally, they can negatively impact your business financially and reputationally as well.
If implemented correctly, a BBS program for construction safety can provide employees with positive feedback and the desire to change potentially unsafe behavior and prevent accidents and injuries. If done consistently, it can also boost the morale and, in relation, minimize lost productivity while creating a construction safety culture your organization can be proud of. Real-time collection of behaviors where the work happens is crucial to the system, allowing a “see something, say something” immersive style of safety culture that is easy to adapt to and report into. Creating this type of culture is paramount to the success of your program.
Using technology to help you create the BBS program and do things like set up your objectives for using digital checklists to capture data, all the way to using analytics for key performance indicators (KPIs), can set your BBS program up for success from day-one.
Keeping all of this in mind will put you on the right path to creating a strong plan for your BBS program. The following five areas are crucial to take into account for ensuring yours and your team’s success.
#1: Involve the Entire Team
Like any plan or program, you want people to work within the plan. So, to ensure successful participation you need to include the entire team in the creation of the plan upfront. Creating anything with less than total buy in isn’t going to do your plan justice. Include everyone — leadership to the back office to craftspeople — to improve your opportunity to capture all potential hazards and risks as well as to create a sense of pride and ownership.
Also, including these folks to create the plan upfront means that they will understand it from the beginning, and you can hit the ground with boots running! Remember to also set S.M.A.R.T goals as a group. This helps everyone get completely on board as well as have a clear understanding of the goals and the benefits of achieving those goals.
#2: Make Ease-of-Use A Priority
The plan should be simple yet effective, so the technology you are using needs to be easy and user friendly as well. The BBS program should be focused on the work and how that work is being performed, including multiple places in the field, remote locations and inside buildings.
The technology you choose needs to work everywhere as well, in real time and seamlessly, fully accessible to craftspeople while the work is happening. Looking for mobile technology that is familiar to today’s workforce and that can be used in a traditionally disconnected environment is key.
When considering technology, it’s also important to ensure that users are empowered to enter data into the system freely, but only on a permission basis. Therefore, choosing a technology that will allow the appropriate permissions is critical.
The plan itself needs to be simple and written in a manner so that it correlates directly to the work procedures that are already in place. It should augment your existing procedures, not complicate them or add something completely foreign.
#3: Collect the Right Data Efficiently
Collecting data is one thing; collecting the right data is another. You can start by making sure to work with the team in advance to determine your goals and what KPIs would be most impactful for your work and, ultimately, what indicators are going to be leading and not lagging. Preventing future accidents and incidents cannot be done by simply waiting and reacting to an issue after the fact, so make sure to focus on leading KPIs that will promote being proactive.
Don’t forget to include KPIs for rewarding new construction safety behaviors to provide positive reinforcement. Remember, the right rewards will pay dividends for your organization. Not everyone is motivated by the same rewards, though, so make sure to match the reward to the recipient for maximum impact.
Lastly but no less important, make sure that your data and analytical tools do have safeguards in place to prevent any disclosure of personal data. Safety applies to information as well as to our physical existence.
#4: Make that Data Accessible
Data is most powerful when it can be viewed and reviewed. Therefore, data should flow smoothly to all team members from executives to the back office to craftspeople. Being able to review progress, top issues, and top performers will help motivate everyone toward compliance and success.
Participation and buy-in can also be enhanced when teams can use the data to perform “what if” scenarios to see how things change. This allows them to become innovative with their behaviors and reactions to work in the field.
Side benefit: Being able to access and react with this data will boost morale and help open up great conversations at every level of interaction within your team and project.
#5: Ensure You Have A Plan for Continuous Improvement
No matter how great your BBS program is, it will change, and that’s a good thing. This is because a great program makes room for positive change.
There should be a solid plan for continuous improvement spelled out in advance, so you can work toward making the program function better for everyone as you learn and evolve from the original goals.
These are by no means the only five things to think about when creating a BBS program, but they are items that should be carefully considered. Choosing the right technology can elevate your program to a truly successful one that can grow with and improve your organization and promote a strong and consistent construction safety culture.
 Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses (Annual) News Release, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, November, 2021.