10 Myths About Behaviour-Based Safety (BBS)

Over the last month (Oct 2018), I spent some time interviewing Professor Scott Geller for the Safety Matters Podcast (SMP).

For those of you who are not familiar with Scott, it would be fair to say that Scott is the “Pioneer” of Behaviour-Based Safety, which later became acronymised as “BBS”.

Scott is a behavioural psychologist, and currently an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Virginia Tech and Director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems.   Check out Scott’s page on Wikipedia.

My first and only “brief meeting” with Scott was back in 2004 when I attended a seminar in the US about Behaviour-Based Safety. I became hooked on the subject.

Even back then, I recognised that Scott was referring to “people and systems” and “humanistic behaviourism” rather than finger-pointing, blaming people etc.

Unfortunately, “BBS” has (more recently) come under some criticism because it has been promulgated as “blaming people” for poor safety performance. I suspect nearly all of you are familiar with BBS, maybe even confused now with the array of material on the internet.

In view of the current situation, opinions and multitude of “new approaches”, which appear to be reinventing the wheel, I asked Scott for a series of 5 interviews, which would cover the following areas:

  1. Baseline – how did it all start?
  2. Paradigm shift – what went wrong?
  3. Realignment – what should have happened and can it be realigned?
  4. Evolution – what’s next?
  5. Refocus – what’s the future?

All 5 interviews were candid and Scott really opened up regarding his challenges. He kept saying:

“I am just a Professor, not a marketing wizard”.

The interviews will be aired (video and podcasts) during the course of Nov 2018.

YOU MAY NEVER GET THE CHANCE TO SEE SCOTT IN PERSON AND THIS MIGHT BE THE ONLY OPPORTUNITY WE MAY HAVE OF SEEING AND HEARING SCOTT “OPEN UP” LIKE NEVER BEFORE.

Scott produced an article a while back and he has kindly allowed me to reproduce the same below. The article was titled “10 Myths About Behaviour-Based Safety” and they are as follows:

  1. It’s just common sense.
  2. It’s just a passing fad.
  3. It’s a magic bullet.
  4. It focuses blame on the employees.
  5. It’s only observation and feedback.
  6. It reduces management responsibility.
  7. It reduces the probability of environment fixes.
  8. It’s “touchy-feely” psychology.
  9. It only works after attitude change.
  10. It doesn’t improve the bottom line.

Listen to the podcasts and watch the videos to learn from the person who started the “Behaviour-Based Safety” concept based upon humanistic behaviourism and people-based safety.