May 22, 2009 | Ken Reed

Root Cause Analysis Tip: Behavior-Based Safety and TapRooT®

     So you are trying to implement a Behavior-Based Safety program at your facility.  You feel it’s a way to get the work force engaged in their safety programs and make improvements.  Unfortunately, your employees have heard that BBS is just a new management method of shifting blame to the employees, instead of having management fix facility safety problems.  You’re worried that you will develop an “Us versus Them” environment.  What can you do to make the transition to an effective improvement program?

 Try using TapRooT® techniques to show your workforce that you really are interested in improving the site safety culture.  Give them examples that show you are not just playing the blame game:

1.  Whenever you must perform an incident investigation using TapRooT®, try to get the workforce involved.  If there is a union presence, you should consider including them as members of the investigation team.  In this way, you can show that your TapRooT® investigation is not out to assign blame, but to only gather unbiased facts.  Names are kept out of your SnapCharT®s, Root Causes are found by strict adherence to the Dictionary®, and Corrective Actions are assigned that directly address the Root Causes that were discovered.  Investigator biases are not introduced into the process.

2.  Use TapRooT® for proactive audits.  By ensuring that you are applying Corrective Actions to actual Root Causes, you’ll find your Corrective Actions will be targeted at the real problems, with no finger-pointing.

3.  In traditional BBS, you teach your employees to point out when someone commits an unsafe act.  The intent of this is to involve the workforce in self-correcting small problems before they lead to larger incidents.  However, some employees feel that this is just a way for management to have the workforce blame each other for problems.  This is not the intent of BBS, but it can be perceived that way.
     As an alternative, you should encourage the workforce to use TapRooT® Safeguards Analysis techniques to point out not just unsafe acts, but also unsafe conditions.  These situations would be equivalent to missing Safeguards.  This lets the employees look for problems not just with their peers’ behaviors, but also with their work environment as well.  Since management is responsible for safe working conditions, this gives the workforce the opportunity to point out Potential Improvement Opportunities for both themselves and management.  Stated a different way, it gives both the individual worker and management the opportunity to improve the working situation.

Behavior-Based Safety was initially conceived to help the workforce help themselves.  The perception seems to have morphed into a blame-oriented system, which was never the intent.  By using TapRooT® to show unbiased investigation techniques and Corrective Actions, you’ll be able to implement an effective improvement program.

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