Impact of Behavior-Based Safety Programs on Workers Compensation
Although behavior-based safety programs (BBS) have been around for years, there has been a lot of buzz about them of late and how they can help reduce Workers Compensation costs. At a recent joint meeting of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. and the American Society of Safety Engineers in Oak Brook, Illinois, Daniel J. Moran, a behavioral psychologist and Joliet, Ill.-based senior vice president of Quality Safety Edge Inc., presented the benefits of behavior-based safety. Mr. Moran said that companies can encourage safer behavior by rewarding employees who follow proper procedures. This philosophy is similar to the one in the healthcare arena where employees are accountable for their well being and health and rewarded for their results. Behavior-based safety reinforces safety on the job with rewards and recognition in an effort to mitigate accidents and injuries.
Behavior-based safety is defined as “application of science of behavior change to real world problems”. BBS “focuses on what people do, analyzes why they do it, and then applies a research-supported intervention strategy to improve what people do.” It encourages safe behaviors and provides positive reinforcement or incentives for change. Programs that revolve around behavioral patterns can help firms foster a culture of safety, prevent claims and reduce workers compensation insurance claim frequency and severity. This ultimately leads to fewer claims and lower costs.
In establishing a BBS program the following processes should be undertaken:
- Defining work procedures that can make employees safer;
- Measuring employees’ use of safe behaviors;
- Providing positive feedback to employees who follow procedures;
- Reinforcing good behaviors with group rewards and social recognition; and
- Conducting regular evaluations to see what safety measures can be improved.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) along with Mercer LLC estimate that firms can see about a $3 to $6 savings in workers compensation claim costs for every $1 they spend on behavior-based safety programs.
In order to implement a successful program, just like anything else, everyone throughout the company needs to be committed to it. Leadership must be active, visible and involved in its commitment to injury and illness prevention. It’s helpful if top executives can articulate a clear and inspiring vision that injury-free performance is the only acceptable goal. Managers in safe companies view safety as a line management responsibility rather than the job of the safety manager or committee. Ideally, the top executive includes safety as a core organizational value equal to productivity and quality.
A good BBS program includes:
- Common goals (employees and management involved in the process)
- Definition of what is expected (specific target behaviors derived from safety assessments)
- Observational data collection
- Decisions about how best to proceed based on those data
- Feedback to associates being observed
A BBS program does involve a shift in company culture and takes time to implement to gain traction and be successful. But done correctly, it can help a company reduce accidents and injuries, lower medical costs, and Workers Comp premiums.
Caitlin Morgan has been specializing in the placement of guaranteed cost workers’ compensation for many years. Whether your client is a minimum premium account or a tougher to place risk, Caitlin Morgan is here to help you meet your clients’ needs. Give us a call at: 877.226.1027.
Sources: Performance Management, Southwestern University