Is Your Behavioural Safety Programme on Life Support?

Is Your Behavioural Safety Programme on Life Support?

Over the last 10-15 years, many organisations developed and rolled out extensive behavioural safety programmes. They were named and branded and have become for better or worse part of the culture of the company.
My question is though, is it time to let them die?
I’ve been to a number of companies recently who have asked me to come along and look at their programme, to see how we can re-invigorate it and re-energise it. For some this is possible and I’m not one to “throw the baby out with the bath water”. For some though they have either become so toxic as a brand or were based on such bad science that it is just time to let it die and start afresh.
A good example of this was “Alpha Sleep”. This became widespread across the behavioural safety industry, especially amongst those selling snake oil cures to whatever ails your safety culture. The only problem is that there is no science to support it, there never has been.
I’ve got to admit it is catchy, but I would not want to be the person that has to stand in front of a judge and explain that they taught their staff about alpha sleep. It would be like sanding their saying “well your honour, we taught them about astrology, so he clearly didn’t read his horoscope for the day and that’s why he had an accident”. I don’t fancy your chances with that as a defence.
Understanding how the brain actually works is a relatively new field. It was only with the invention of the Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 1990 that scientists could watch the brain in action and start to understand which part of the brain responded to different stimuli.
However, this relatively new science, whilst raising lots more questions than answers has given us an absolutely new understanding of how we tick.
For some older programmes it is irrelevant of the science. The brand itself has become so toxic that it is time to change it completely.
I came across one like this recently. An old SUSA programme that has been running for many years. People would report that they made them up at their desk and the only thing that their managers cared about was the number that they had completed, not whether they had actually improved the culture in any way.
So, if your behavioural safety programme is on its last legs then isn’t it time that it was modernised or changed?
If your behavioural programme is looking like it stepped out of the eighties, complete with shoulder pads and bouffant lacquered hair, then its time to bring it up to date, to shake it up by adapting or re-branding it. Using more modern approach based on the science of today with practical tools for people to use.
It’s time to shake off the old “snake oil” and put a behavioural change programme in place that really works, a 21st century programme for the 21st century.

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