behavior based safety

Behavior Based Safety is the practical application of behavioral science or behavioral safety analysis. With a bbs-based safety culture your company is already in the future generation of occupational health and safety management.
Bbs ensures that safe behavior in the workflow is accepted as beneficial The more frequently employees want to behave safely, the less likely they are to accept the benefits of risky behavior. As a result, the number of accidents at work decreases.


Implementation of BBS

The implementation of this globally ambitious safety culture is only feasible with highly experienced experts. In addition to the "institution", in-depth qualifications of the future managers are required to cultivate and expand a bbs culture.
Experience has shown that implementing this most sustainable occupational health and safety system can take several months.

Therefore, a bbs system makes sense, in particular, when organizations want to switch from the previous stand-alone solutions of the classic occupational safety departments or external assignments to a holistic, integrated QHSE management. A bbs system exceeds definite requirements of the ISO 45001.

4-Step-Implementation of your BBS-System

1. - Illustration of the safety culture
For the establishment of a bbs security management, the existing characteristics of the current security culture are first of all recorded and the desired goals and resources mapped:

  • Defining the future goals and the future policy (at the same time fulfilling the conformity criteria in an occupational safety audit)
  • Identification of existing programs as well as mapping of current employee behavior and consequence pattern
  • Determination of existing qualifications and necessary training of named experts and supervisors to accompany the project

2. - Identification of risky behavior
With intensive examinations, which may also include under-cover participation in the main focuses of risk or anonymous employee interviews, the behavioral model of Herrnstein are analyzed.

  • Determining the core areas of existing adaptive benefits (which advantageous and risky behavior is tolerated, or has become acclimated)
  • Determination of the consequences, (Amplifier for lasting change of behavior and the strengthening of willingness to change to safe behavior)

3. - Qualification and integration
Impart the skills to maintain safe behavior pro actively

  • In-house training of the participants for a safe behavior (train the trainer, for multiplication)
  • Identification of suitable representatives for the involvement of the workforce in the bbs safety culture

4. - Sustainability Care
In coordination with the tasks of the BBS officer or QHSE manager, or to prepare for certification of an ISO 45001 audit, the following tasks up to a self-sufficient autonomous control make sense:

  • Implementation of additional KPI´s and breakpoints for continuous improvement
  • Participation incentives for the workforce for continuous success and contribution


history of bbs

The global industry today shows a growing interest in a so-called "safety culture", with regard to the avoidance / reduction of major loss events, as well as incidents and accidents in everyday operations. The term "safety culture" was first coined in the OECD report on the Chernobyl disaster for the first time. There were certainly many definitions of the term "safety culture" that prevailed in the American or British safety organizations.
The goal of promoting safety-relevant behavior rather than punishing risky behavior, as is still widespread in Germany, was investigated as early as the 1980s.

For example, in the comprehensive American / English literature (Uttal. B), the following definitions of the term "safety culture" are given:
"Corporate culture refers to the system of shared values ​​(how things work) and beliefs (how things work) interacting with a company's people, organizational structures and control systems to produce behavioral norms"

The UK Health and Safety Commission (HSC) defines safety culture as ...
... the individual and group values, attitudes, competencies and patterns of behavior, that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, in organizations health & safety programs. Organizations with positive safety culture are characterized by communications on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety, and by confidence in the efficacy of preventative measures.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) defines:
Share the thoughts and beliefs of all members of the organization about risk, accidents and ill health,
The basis of all these and other definitions are the behavior of individuals and the cohesion of individuals in the organization.

A safety culture is created by the behavior of individuals, based on personal values, attitudes, competences and inclinations towards a situation, group or organization.
This behavior can be promoted, changed or discriminated against. The implementation of new or changed values, attitudes, and responses to a situation or organization can be related to individuals, to groups, or even to the organization itself.

list of references:
Master Thesis C.Ruhe 2012 TFH Bochum
Bördlein Christoph Factor People in Occupational Safety 2009, Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin 2009
behavior based safety in operation

Behavior Based Safety is the practical application of behavioural science or behavioral analysis in the field of occupational safety. Behavioral analysis is the science of the functional relations between behavior and environmental events. If companies decide to integrate and "live" a sustainable bbs structure, it takes more than just adding an additional declaration of intent to the company's policy or website presentation.

For bbs to work, all company members need to understand bbs.

For the company's management, this means that security aspects must be explicitly taken into account in every decision. Managers in the field of occupational safety and health must be thoroughly trained persons with appropriate decision-making powers and areas of competence. If concern for the health and loyalty of a company's employees is taken seriously, this must be clearly expressed in the way they are treated.

In practice, the integration path of a bbs culture is first determined with an analysis of the actual state. Which adaptations or changes are desired and to be expected and in which form bbs can be established in the whole company.

This certain analysis, also known as safety assessment, is not a safety audit according to OHSAS 18001 or other standards.

Employees not only need to know how to work safely, which is determined by the previous conditions (training, instructions, etc. which is simply standard safety at work!).
Under the sound conditions of previous training, employees know how to work safely, but whether they can do this consistently or whether they want to do it reliably on their own will determine the consequences that trigger the will to behave safely.

In most companies, occupational safety is an issue when an accident occurs. Only then will there be negative consequences for the person concerned and for the company.
Forward-looking or preventive, there are hardly any positive consequences for concrete safe behaviour. Safe behaviour is often punished indirectly, as safe working seems to be much slower and more expensive.

In an effective bbs culture, positive consequences must be pursued (not only, but especially) in a sustainable and timely manner. Amendments such as "we want to reduce the number of accidents at work" are not bbs-compatible targets.

list of references:
Master Thesis C.Ruhe 2012 TFH Bochum
Bördlein Christoph Factor People in Occupational Safety 2009, Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin 2009
behavior and consequences

The behavioral analysis deals with what people say or do. The behavioral analysis attempts to understand, explain, describe and predict this behavior. First practical applications of these findings were made in the 1970s by F.E. Bird and L. Schlesinger, R. McIntire and J. White

Bbs ensures that safe behavior occurs more frequently in the workflow. The more frequently employees behave safely, the less likely they are to behave riskily. As a result, the number of occupational accidents will decrease
One key insight into human risk behavior is the fact that people, consciously or unconsciously, are not fundamentally opposed to a risk as a "task", but in fact rather fear the apparent or anticipated losses that threaten without the use of risky behavior ,
These connections illustrate the research of Kahneman and Tversky
The particular realization of this behavior is that self-considered people only resist risky behavior as long as they can remain in an unchanged mental and physical state of affairs.
However, if these individuals are exposed to imminent loss, their willingness to take risks increases with the clear acceptance and repression of dangers in order to be able to avoid or at least refute the expected losses.
Those risky behaviors with which a person succeeds (more productive outcome, longer breaks, more salary, more comfortable postures, etc.) will be maintained in the longer term. The reason why a person behaves this way and not otherwise lies in the adaptive utility, the "adaptive value" that this behavior has for the person in their environment.

A prospective safety culture focuses on employees who want to work safely

BBS demands a visible role model from all levels and especially from the management. When a company's management relies on bite-sized, ready-made bbs guidelines that are even mandatory or even job-specific reduced, this is not an effective bbs culture.
Perhaps this will be delegated to a representative, whereby the failure of the pseudo-system is preprogrammed. External "BBS guidelines" of various industry associations only serve to fulfill market-economic interactions.
An effective bbs safety culture requires in-depth employment, i. Concretization of the bbs-principles with the goal of an endogenous security loyalty.
For bbs to work, all corporate members need to understand bbs

For management, this means that security issues must be explicitly considered in every decision. Internal specialists for occupational safety and security officers / hazardous substances officers, etc. must be profoundly trained persons with competence. Taking the concern for the health and loyalty of a company's employees seriously must be clearly reflected in the way you treat employees. External service providers (agents) are not sustainable in a bbs culture.

In contrast to the security audit, which examines whether employees and / or company facilities are in conformity with the existing security regulations, an impact analysis deals with the overview of how any known or resulting measures regarding the handling of "security" in the behavior of the participants is internalized.

From these behavioral analytic assessment procedures explanations (consequences) and prognoses (changes in behavior) can be derived.

For employees to understand occupational safety, occupational safety must understand the employees

Insofar as it is now clear that bbs is not a program with immediate effect, but a process of long-term effects, it should not now be expected in a simplified causality that only a decline in accident frequencies in the long term. At the same time, there will be a decline in near misses and a significant decrease in sick leave or turnover. Significant changes to presentism and absenteeism will sustainably favor the culture of a bbs-led company

list of references:
Master Thesis C.Ruhe 2012 TFH Bochum
Bördlein Christoph "Factor People in Occupational Safety" 2009, Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin 2009
Differentiated features of a safety culture

The culture of an organization is defined by what people do in it. The decisions reflect the value of a culture. The following differentiated elements of a safety culture show how participants in a safety culture in a company, with technical, organizational and environmental
conditional factors, define an entire corporate safety culture:

Intrinsic culture
Participants are encouraged to name security-related events, to announce their own mistakes and near misses If safety-relevant events are known, prevention and protection measures are taken immediately.
Employees are also experts in the risk and stress situation due to their many years of experience in the workplace. If it is possible to create an open and constructive atmosphere in the company for occupational safety and health problems, BBS specialists generally receive important information about direct or indirect demands (see load and stress) and risk behavior / adaptive benefits of the individual employees through a direct employee survey an overall picture, which is not to be expected by the regular care of an external occupational safety specialist.

Flexible culture
Participants are able to respond to changing requirements effectively and flexibly
Security relevant events can be promptly and effectively brought to a decentralized or local implementation.
Participants are committed to developing and applying their own protective measures. The management cares sustainably for the CIP process and documents and controls and promotes the success of established measures in the company
There are now countless initiatives in companies where the implementation of participatory OSH is carried out. Some of these projects are also initiated and supported by health insurances as part of company health promotion or by professional associations. As far as possible these measures are to be found for a health and safety certification according to OHSAS 18001 or also the AMS of the professional associations, OHRIS, SCC or SQAS, etc.

The findings that are gained and documented here are therefore of a more binding nature (standard conformity) without adaptive benefits for the target group. To accept further insights and concepts developed from them and to lead them sustainably in everyday working life is a task that an organization should master only by excellently trained QHSE managers (especially H & S managers).

Especially in times of intense shortage of skilled workers and significant work overload, cosmetic measures are reduced to the following minimum safety culture.

Extrinsic culture
Participants are undemanding, obligingly reassured that basic security measures and information are provided.
Uncertain behavior is understood and known, negligent or intentional misconduct is intolerable.
The workforce accepts which safety-related behaviors to apply.
An extrinsic culture derives safety-relevant measures from the fact that people develop mistakes and mistakes self-protective properties. Concurrently, there are no penalties for risky behavior; which ultimately, as long as it has no consequences, becomes a safety-conscious habit out of convenience and time-savings.
Only a clear demarcation is made between everyday, risk-tolerant behavior and against obvious or deliberate disregard of relevant protection measures.

list of references:
Master Thesis C.Ruhe 2012 TFH Bochum
Bördlein Christoph "Factor People in Occupational Safety" 2009, Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin 2009
Self-test of your safety culture

Check the importance of your own safety culture:

The importance (excellence) of a security loyalty can be classified in organizations in different categories:


  • Discordant (disagree)
    An organization is negligently insecure and endorses risks in consideration of revenue and foresighted consequences, (eg authoritie-assessment)

  • Akkordant (adapting to structures)
    An organization fixes accidents and causes after their occurrence.
  • Concordant (coinciding)
    An organization operates a coherent system to manage, identify, assess and minimize risks (classic risk assessment). The workforce and management follow the procedures, which do not necessarily go beyond the applicable regulations.
  • Progressive
    An organization operates a dynamic QHSE management in which the management and workforce are actively involved in the CIP.
    CIP=Continuous improvement process.

  • Prospective
    An organization integrates Behavioral Safety (BBS) as an integral part of the safety loyalty culture within a QHSE management system as a quality yardstick for safety culture.

The implementation and maintenance of a behavior-based safety culture requires excellently trained H&S managers in the authorized management level.
A delegation to a appointed person for
occupational safetyy or others, especially external consulter, is doomed to failure.

SCF Safety Culture Ladder

The Safety Culture Ladder is a Dutch standard aimed at increasing the safety at work of all concerned.

This occupational safety awareness sold as a system is a commercial light version of the bahavior based safety principles. The truly sustainable bbs principles have been around since the 1980s. If organizations are serious about a bbs culture then the information on our bbs page and our bbs seminars is valuable.

However, since a number of consultants and certification authorities need a new business model, the easy-to-use bbs elements are now offered on the market as salable system components. These are advertised under "more work safety performance", "fewer accidents".
SCL is such as SQAS is organized as a commercially certifiable system in chapters to be audited by auditors for a final certificate.

A behavioral culture is not certifiable. Organizations should be aware that the implementation of a serious safety culture like bbs is fundamentally different from SCF's commercial feature

Even more certificates and checklists do not raise awareness of a safety culture. Nor can the introduction of a reward and sanction system be found in terms of behavior-based safety culture. SCF differs from the requirements for occupational health and safety management systems, among others. in this point.

our recommendation
An authentic safety culture, which has earned the name bbs, the employees will live and acknowledge.
If an organization wants to reflect sustainably that safety and safety culture are important, internal content and understanding must be authentically mapped with the employees. A bbs safety culture inside and an ISO 45001 certification as an internationally recognized standard to the outside, are already together the premium version.

QHSE Compliance

QHSE Management Division Europe

If there is any question that we can answer, please let us know
Christian Ruhe M.Sc.
support technical and industrial specifications
+49 (0) 231 / 952 99 4 99