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Behavioural safety success criteria, can't just be limited to safe behaviours! (Part 2)

The majority of behavioural safety observations are directed at the those with the least amount of influence on the conditions of work and try to see how workers cope successfully with their environment. The real direction of safety observations should be towards those that control and direct the environment and how they create opportunities for success, for their teams. This process is not the same for all organisations, or even projects within the same organisation. That is where the commitment of the organisation to the process, can decide its success or otherwise, as there can be discomfort, associated with identifying the genesis of the problem. As the employee encounters and seeks to overcome any given problem, they can obscure causes and by finding/fixing regularly the organisation never develops an understanding of the exposures that are created through poor planning.

Some incidents that occur are not caused by the behaviour or the employees at the task, so employee observations will not identify their exposure or the mechanism-of-incident. These incident types are outside of the normal accidents as identified by Perrow, they do not involve complexity and they are not tightly coupled to the activity.

Safety observation programmes, do come with some baggage, where they have been considered by some stakeholders as, employee blaming. The level of trust in the organisation, between the different stakeholders, is vital to any safety programme. Research and experience suggest that poor levels of trust, in an organisation indicate that it is not in the appropriate place for observational safety programmes.

Look inwards, embrace the discomfort and possibly experience the growth, often described in research fields as organisational maturity.

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