BCS Safety Culture Driven by Perceived Choice

Job safety is the way at BCS Austin

Many of us in construction safety are familiar with the concept of Behavior Based Safety (BBS), where rather than telling workers that they must be safe because OSHA says so, employees are encouraged to recognize their patterns and avoid their historical higher risk behaviors.  This can become an even more powerful motivator for employees who perceive that they are given choices when it comes to safety.  We need only look to the Covid-19 epidemic or even making plans for a summer weekend to see that choosing gives one a sense of joy in being able to control not wearing a mask, what time we are going to wake up or what we are going to do or not do on a given weekend day.  Having choices may not always be valued when it is given, but when it is limited or taken away, we often look to the option that gives more control and choose to perform one task over the other due to perceived choice.  

Helping workers see that they can choose to be safe can be challenging.  However, reminding workers that instead of performing mindless repetitive routines, they can see what control they have over their own safety by making active choices and understanding the consequences of their decisions.  Even the way we talk about safety can affect perceived choices.  Accidents are better called “unintended injuries” for example.  Leaders who show and tell their workers that they trust them to be safe are more effective at creating perceived choice than those who takes words from the OSHA manual like; compliance, mandatory and requirement and replace them with words like accomplishment, opportunity and expectation. The goal is to boost morale and improve safety and so it seems logical that a happier worker is a safer worker. 

BCS has been injury accident free for several months on our jobsites and this is in part due to our constant education and training that presents safety as a perceived choice.  Summer presents us with the seasonal challenges of extreme Texas heat and new hires.   Being safe on our jobsites is a proactive choice and a personal decision to be accountable. Safety is not passive or mandatory, it is part of our culture and the best choice to protect our team in the field.  Our leaders have a proven track record of three consecutive years of improved safety that speaks for itself. In order to continue to improve our safety culture, the concept of perceived choices is critical to our future success.

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