Health & Safety at Work: Changing Safety Behaviour


Part of Health & Safety at Work For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Effective safety management involves people doing the right thing, following safety rules, looking out for themselves and each other, and having the right attitude. Changing safety behaviour can be a bit tricky. It can take a long time and if you don’t know what you’re doing it can easily backfire.

The aim is to change unsafe (undesirable) behaviour to safe (desirable) behaviour. A step-by-step approach may look like this:

  1. Recognise the specific behaviour that needs changing (the unsafe behaviour).

  2. Measure the existing level of this unsafe behaviour by observation (you can train people to be ‘behavioural auditors’ and conduct these behavioural audits – this can set a baseline level).

  3. Identify the cues or triggers that cause the unsafe behaviour and the good and bad outcomes that may result from it (this is where you have to analyse why people adopt unsafe behaviour).

  4. Train employees to observe and record this unsafe behaviour (this spreads the workload so that everyone is looking out for unsafe behaviour, but it may start with supervisors).

  5. Praise/reward safe behaviour and challenge unsafe behaviour – this encourages safe behaviour.

  6. Provide feedback on safe/unsafe behaviour levels regularly to your workforce.