Behavioural Safety Programmes

Making safety behaviours into Habits

The two key challenges to achieving sustained improvements in Personal Safety are:
  1. Enabling the individual to continually perceive and assess risks, especially by being fully aware of their current mental and physical state, and particularly the key 4 risk states identified by Higbee of rushing, frustration, fatigue and complacency.
  2. Inculcating within the individual the imperative to take personal responsibility to manage and mitigate those states and thus the errors and risks associated with these states.
These challenges will be achieved through working with an individual to:
  1. Improve their perception of risk and in so doing raise their capability to assess
  2. Ensure they take personal ownership to address risks they have identified.
  3. Increase their skills to manage and mitigate risk.
  4. Support each person in developing and applying their own Personalised Safety Plan
Behavioural Safety Programmes Behavioural Safety
Organisations have over a number of years developed tools, techniques and matrices for themselves and their staff to assess and evaluate risk. The drawback of such tools is their emphasis on the external risks of the environment and the hazard. They are therefore flawed.

The ultimate risk to Personal Safety is the compromised safe behaviour of the individual due to the individual’s physical or mental state.

Gary Higbee identifies 4 key risk states:

  1. Rushing
  2. Frustration
  3. Fatigue
  4. Complacency

Higbee’s research showed that one or more of these states where present in over 95% of accidents and incidents

These risk states then impact on performance and lead to people making critical errors in the following ways:

Area Impact
Visual Eyes not on task
Concentration Mind not on task
Kinaesthetic Losing Balance, traction, grip
Physical Location Situational Awareness / “Line of Fire” “Line of fire” is a military term that describes the path of a discharged missile or firearm. It’s the path an object will travel. In the rail workplace there are many objects and hazards that have potential to create line of fire exposure.

Impaired performance then results in errors and unexpected events such as near misses and incidents.

Complacency is worth separate consideration as it represents a particular risk to Personal Safety. Larry Wilson in his book quotes the following personal example:

“Years back we were over at the mother-in-law’s for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s the huge turkey spread, and while we’re eating, it starts snowing. We start assessing whether we should drive home or stay the night – we look out the window at how much it’s snowing and judge it isn’t really that bad…. We check the Internet. Welook at the weather reports. We even turn on the radio to hear about road closures. We are basically making all kinds of assessments about the physical risk.

None of us – including me – until we’re at about the third hour of the drive home, and I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open – thought, “What is the risk of driving 3 hours after a big turkey dinner and falling asleep at the wheel?” We didn’t think about that at all.And yet people falling asleep at the wheel represents approximately 25% of the fatal car crashes in Canada and the United States.

But there’s a natural tendency for people to look solely  at the physical environment and physical hazards when they’re doing a risk assessment and totally neglect the essential question of  “What is my state of mind?” or “How complacent have I become with this activity?” These are rarely questions that people ask during assessments. And yet complacency is a major and minor contributing factorwith almost every accidental acute injury”

The following factors pose additional risks and will be covered in the Programme:

  1. Familiarity.
    When an individual is familiar i.e. regularly exposed to a hazard, it is common for them to assume they know a lot about that hazard. They are therefore liable to underestimate the presenting degree of risk.
  1. Voluntariness.
    When an individual ‘volunteers’ totake a risk i.e. they make a free choice to expose themselves to a known risk, they then usually underestimate the chances of being hurt.
  1. Distorted perception of risk.
    When accidents happen and receive attention there is a distorted and inaccurate perception that these accidents are more likely to happen. For example, there is a distorted perception that air travel is more risky than road travel, as aeroplane accidents receive high profile coverage.
  1. The underestimation of complexity.
    It is often impossible for an individual to become cognisant of technological risks because the true risk only reveals itself in a unique event, usually an accident.

Personal Ownership of Safety

The hallmark of a genuine organisational commitment to establishing and maintaining a culture of safety is when employees take personal ownership for the safe behaviour of themselves, their colleagues and customers.

Many employees make the dangerous assumption that accidents are something that happen to other people, and therefore that workplace safety is not their personal priority. They do not take personal ownership for safe behaviour.

The goal for any industry for which safety is critical is to reach ‘habit-strength’ for safe behaviour—defined as everyone demonstrating safe behaviour all of the time. This is not a ‘blue-sky’ goal – teams repeatedly demonstrate that not only can they reach this goal but also understand the importance of admitting when they haven’t.

Good examples are: Canadian Pacific Railway which reported a 46% decrease in human-caused incidents following the implementation of their Safety Programme; in military aviation, reports suggest that the occurrence of accidents has reduced by 81% following their introduction of Personal Safety and Human Factors training.

Skills to manage and mitigate risk

Telling people not to make errors or trying to change human nature to eradicate error is not an effective approach to managing risk and Personal Safety.

Individuals must be given easily accessible and practical approaches to managing and mitigating risk in their personal behaviour.

This necessitates a systematic approach to addressing the key areas of all Personal Safety:

  • The individual’s personal capabilities and limitations in terms of doing, thinking and interacting.
  • The environment in which the individual works – both the physical environment and he organisational environment (e.g. culture, policies and procedures).
  • The actions individuals perform.
  • The resources required for the individual to do the job – these can be tangible such as equipment or intangible such as time.

From this approach we arrive at a powerful and meaningful set of tools and techniques unique to the individuals in their given role to maximise their Personal Safety.



Benefits for your Organisation

Vision and Strategy

  • Demonstrable commitment to:
    • The development of a sustainable safety culture.
    • The development of employee behavioural safety competence.
  • Demonstrable duty of care – Looking after your staff is both morally justified and legally necessary.


  • A return on investment through reduced incident costs.
  • Prevention of loss of property, life and reputation caused by accidents or incidents.

Business processes

  • Minimised risk of accidents caused through lack of concentration and impaired performance.
  • Reduced number of incidents and improved safety performance.

Learning and Growth

  • More effective employees.
  • Improved motivation to behave safely.
  • Increased levels of understanding and awareness of Personal Safety.
  • Higher sense of loyalty towards the organisation (“they care”)

Benefits for Attendees

Personalised Safety Plan

  • Each participant will have developed their own Personalised Safety Plan
  • The skills to create a habitual based approach to their own safety

Skills development

  • Learning and practising new skills to maximise their ability to behave safely.
  • Increase levels of understanding and awareness of critical errors and Human Factors.
  • Improve their own concentration and performance levels.
  • A toolkit of skills and techniques to enhance safety performance.

Personal development

  • Increased awareness of factors that impact upon their safety performance.
  • Sense of being empowered and in control

Professional development

  • How to better manage safety for themselves and others in the workplace.
  • A foundation for on-going safety skills development.

Benefits for your Organisation

The approach

  • ‘kick-off’ meetings with key personal: -Head of Engineering Production, Engineering Safety Manager, and depot Management to engage their commitment and ownership in the delivery of the programme.
  • A consultancy approach with a mixed management and staff workshop to define and develop the Key Safety Principles.
  • A consultancy approach with a mixed management and staff workshop to define behaviour profiles for Management and Staff.
  • A base measurement of accident rates on both sites and targets to be established and monitored.
  • Training for the new Engineering Safety Manager in Behavioural Safety and governance of Zero Tolerance to unsafe working practices.
  • Management training programmes consisting for 3 days each.
  • Staff Training Programmes consisting of 2 days each

Accident Rates following Arcadia Alive Intervention. 

Accident Rates following Arcadia Alive Intervention

In the three years prior to our work they ran an average incident/accident rate of 2.89 per period. In the twelve months following our work they ran an average of 0.25.

Please complete the contact form for you would like to know more about how we can design your Behavioural Safety Programme or call us at 08545 2600126