Implement behavioural safety programme in workplaces

It is important that we cultivate safety-conscious behaviour in our workers in general, so that people will always think of safety before carrying out any work.
It is important that we cultivate safety-conscious behaviour in our workers in general, so that people will always think of safety before carrying out any work. PHOTO: ST FILE

Recently, I read in the 2018 Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) report released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) that the top three causes of workplace major injuries were slips, trips and falls, machinery incidents and falls from a height.

I can't help but wonder if many of these accidents could be attributed to unsafe behaviours of workers in their workplace.

It is important that we cultivate safety-conscious behaviour in our workers in general, so that people will always think of safety before carrying out any work.

This is where a behavioural safety programme (BSP) in workplaces, to create awareness and encourage safety behaviours in workers, comes in.

BSP is a structured process where appointed people in an organisation carry out behavioural observations and interventions of workers on site, and offer both positive and negative feedback to the workers if they have demonstrated any safe or unsafe behaviour during their work.

While it might be a labour-intensive programme, the benefits are rewarding if companies implement it correctly and effectively.

Perhaps the BSP should be implemented as part of the Workplace Safety and Health (Design for Safety) Regulations.

Safety is clearly essential during the design stage of any major building project.

BSP could be incorporated in the planning stage of a development project, so that when the building stage starts, workers would hopefully have learnt to be more safety conscious.

The practice of recording behaviours and correcting them - essential to BSP - will also be made easier if we can make use of technology.

It might be beneficial if the authorities could look into improving the SnapSafe mobile application such that it can be used to capture unsafe behaviour or even to compile safety reports so that further action can be taken.

Also, to further develop a more holistic WSH culture in Singapore, a collaboration by the relevant authorities might help.

For example, the Building and Construction Authority, the Health Promotion Board, the Ministry of Education and MOM can work together to produce programmes that will boost workplace safety awareness and practices.

Seah Lin Kiat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2019, with the headline 'Implement behavioural safety programme in workplaces'. Print Edition | Subscribe