Data Management Issues.
The effectiveness of your administrative, data collation and tabulation efforts WILL influence the success of your process! What are the issues?
There are numerous different types of Behavioral Safety processes. These range from 'Observation Card systems" (where the checklist is exactly the same for the whole organization and people complete them as and when a hazard or unsafe behavior is spotted) to complete systematic Behavioral Safety processes that either adopt a 'peer-to peer' observation approach (where people are encouraged or mandated to observe one individual per day, week , quarter, etc) or a 'workgroup approach' where a nominated person from within a workgroup observes everyone in their workgroup during their observation on a pre-scheduled basis (e.g. daily, every 2-3 days or weekly). Regardless of approach, each explicitly or implicitly requires some form of of administration, data collection and tabulation system.
The following highlights common problems associated with these issues.
There is no standardized process / procedure for people to hand in their completed observation checklists to those running the process on a daily basis. Surprisingly, some Behavioral Safety processes do not consider such practical issues. This means that the rich data source to use to provide feedback becomes lost or mislaid. It is vital that all practical issues should be explored and addressed prior to the process going 'live'.
The success of many processes is often assessed by participation rates (i.e. the number of people trained as observers) and observation rates (i.e the percentage of trained observers actively observing). It is difficult to monitor these if records are not kept, but survey results indicate this does not occur in 50% of all Behavioral Safety processes. Often this is due to 'perceived cost' issues, but in reality it is a 'false economy' to not do it. The reasons for the many 'delivery failures' of Behavioral Safety processes can be laid at the door of poor administration!
There is no computerized means to collate and tabulate the observation scores. This means analyses of the observational data recorded has to be done by hand if it is done at all (40 percent do not collate their data at all according to the survey on this site). It is a cumbersome, time consuming process to do it by hand, and it also affects the quality of the feedback given to people, that can also lead the project team down 'dead ends' when trying to identify and resolve issues holding back performance. Specialist Behavioral Safety software is available from most Behavioral Safety vendors, but is used in only 20% of cases. The computational time saved from using the dedicated software more than pays for itself in a very short time period. Importantly, the quality of feedback received by the workforce positively affects outcomes such as rapid reduction in injuries - some processes that have been in effect for a decade or more are still struggling to reduce injuries, simply because they do not provide sufficient, fine-detailed, feedback to the workforce!
There is nobody assigned to drive and maintain the process on a daily basis. Too often, project teams (e.g. Steering committees) meet on a monthly basis to collate the data and discuss any issues arising (N.B. 65% of all BBS processes use Steering Committees). This means there is a considerable 'time-lag' before issues are resolved or people receive feedback about their safety performance. In my view, even if a process is run and developed by a 'steering committee' that meets monthly, there is still a need for one or more of the team members to be appointed on a full-time basis to drive the project and ensure it delivers sustainable results. The benefits far outweigh the costs involved.
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