Measuring behaviour

I read with interest Neil Budworth’s article Made to measure in the SHP April edition – a very worthwhile reminder of the value of leading indicators in measuring health and safety performance.

To read the full article click here

For me, any discussion on the subject of measuring behaviour should always emphasise two very important points, an appreciation of which might help to reduce some of its more controversial aspects.

Firstly, behavioural observations are a potential flash-point and great care is needed to ensure that they are, and remain, positive engagements which reinforce safe-behaviours and educate about risks. Even in well-constructed behavioural safety programmes, there is a real danger that well-trained observers, full of good intent, become frustrated by the frequent repetition of the same at-risk behaviours by the same individuals. This is almost inevitable given the high number of observations, observers are required to make.

Secondly, and this is inextricably linked with the first point above, observations in and of themselves are pointless unless there is an appreciation of the drivers and obstacles which influence the individual’s choices. If the individual is forced or encouraged to behave unsafely because of the way the work is designed or organised, or if the individual is prevented from working safely by the same, and nothing is done to address these underlying issues, you can observe him/her until the cows come home, the behaviour will not change.

For me, one of the fundamental reasons why behavioural safety is controversial is that too few organisations appreciate and have the desire to address, the drivers and obstacles that influence behaviour.

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