It's the hazards_ stupid

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					                    B S A L E R T : B E H AV I O U R A L S A F E T Y S C H E M E S

It's the hazards,
There's a lot of dangerous crap at
                                               accident means your entire
                                               shift loses its bonus, so an
                                               accident magically disap-
                                               pears. You might find having
                                                                                            initiatives. The health and
                                                                                            safety coordinator for the
                                                                                            union federation Massachu-
                                                                                            setts AFL-CIO says: “Focusing
                                                                                                                                 being restructured – issues
                                                                                                                                 like adequate staffing levels,
                                                                                                                                 limits on extended work
                                                                                                                                 hours, humane work load
                                               an accident gets you fired.                  on worker behaviour as               and work pace are not even
work. You breathe it, you lift it, you         You will find there's only one               opposed to hazardous                 considered.”
touch it, you despair of it. Now, thanks winner, and it isn't you.                          conditions as the cause of              In fact, BS schemes can
                                                  UK workers in the coal                    workplace injuries and ill-          increase the dangers of work.
to the Health and Safety Executive,            and steel trades have already                nesses leads to approaches           “These programmes and poli-
you may have to swallow a lot more             seen BS schemes introduced                   where workers are blamed             cies have a chilling effect
BS too. HSE is dusting off the discred- with a detrimental effect on                        for 'bad' or 'unsafe' behav-         on workers' reporting of
                                               accident rates (Hazards 64).                 iours such as not wearing            symptoms, injuries and
ited science of "behavioural safety"           The schemes are being                        safety glasses or not follow-        illnesses," says a policy
so however many hazards you face at            pushed in transport, commu-                  ing procedures. What gets            resolution from AFL- CIO,
work, when things go wrong you can             nication and other sectors.                  missed by focusing on worker
                                                  And behavioural safety                    behaviour, what never gets
safely assume "it's all your fault."           targets workers' behaviour,                  asked, is 'why?'" (see right).
Hazards editor Rory O'Neill reports.           when the overwhelming ma-                       She adds: “Employers
                                               jority of health and safety                  also like behaviour-based
                                               problems at work – read                      approaches because man-
                                               your own reports, HSE –                      agement is taken off the

                        n late June 2002,      are caused by management                     hook for fixing hazards.
                        HSE published a report corner-cutting, ignorance                       "Gone are demands for
                        "that aims to promote and a disregard for workers'                  engineering control, toxic use
                        more widespread appli- health and safety.                           reduction, and ergonomic
                        cation of behavioural     In the US and Canada,                     job design, as attention
                 safety principles to improve major union organisations                     shifts to workers wearing
                 health and safety."           have warned against“blame                    personal protective equip-
                   HSE's Dr Norman Byrom       the worker" BS systems.                      ment and using proper body
                 said: “There is potential to     UFCW, one the USA's                       position. Gone is any focus
                 extend behavioural safety     largest unions, says:                        on how work is organised or
                 principles... more widely to  "By shifting the focus away
                 encourage and promote be- from workplace hazards,
                 haviours that support the     such programmes leave                          Unsafe and unsound
                 health and safety manage-     significant safety and health                  Instead of having a focus on identifying hazards and
                 ment system as well as the    problems unaddressed.                          eliminating or reducing them, the emphasis of a behaviour-
                 development of a positive     UFCW members, stewards                         al safety programme is on getting workers to work around
                 health and safety culture.”   and representatives have                       hazards that shouldn't be there in the first place.
                   So, what's wrong with       worked hard to establish                       Workers are supposed to duck, dodge, lift safely, wear
                 that? The programmes re-      strong safety and health                       personal protective equipment... When a worker is injured,
                                                                                              it is his or her fault for not working carefully enough. Disci-
                 ward workers when reported initiatives in all of our indus-                  pline can become management's preferred response to
                 accidents fall. You can play  tries. Behaviour based safety                  worker injury.
                 safety bingo; sounds fun.     programmes weaken these                        Even in cases where a behavioural safety programmme
                 There's prizes, maybe a       hard-won protections and                       is implemented with assurances that there will be no
                 car or a holiday. And those   discourage members from                        discipline, workers can face inquisitions when they report
                 dangerous workers out there taking a more active role in                     injuries to determine what "unsafe behaviours" they
                                                                                              were engaging in.
                 get their comeuppance.        the union.”
                   The problem comes when                                                     Workers avoid these inquisitions by ceasing to report
                                                  Nancy Lessin has advised
                                                                                              accidents and injuries. When injuries aren't reported,
                 you see what really happens. North American unions to                        hazards don't get identified or corrected. Nancy Lessin
                 You might find reporting an avoid behavioural safety

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COOKING THE ACCIDENT BOOK S                                                                                          w w w . h a z a r d s . o r g /b s

the US TUC. It adds this            workers when they identify
“can leave workers' health          serious hazards or recom-                                                          Why, why, why, why, why?
and safety problems untreat-        mend ways to eliminate                                                             Nancy Lessin is the top US expert on union
ed and underlying hazards           them.”                                                                             responses to behavioural safety. She has
uncorrected.”                          Leo Gerard, international                                                       this advice for union reps.
   Just as worrying, the use        president of the North Ameri-
of these schemes may under-         can steelworkers' union                 NO BULL: A USWA behavioural                Health and safety approaches that
                                                                            safety campaign said "No BS:
mine the well-documented            USWA, gives this advice:                                                           focus on workers' behaviour condemn
                                                                            Eliminate hazards – don't blame
“union safety effect,” where        “Management's blame the                 workers." The union says a
                                                                                                                       workers as the problem. Unions see
union organisation delivers         worker programmes are as                behavioural safety model goes:             workers as the solution.
dramatic reductions in              dangerous to our members                Identification>Evaluation>Duck!            There is no one better to identify the
                                                                        hazards on a job, or come up with ideas
workplace accident rates            as any other challenge that                                                        to eliminate or reduce those hazards,
(Hazards 78). AFL-CIO notes         we face today. The USWA                                                            than the worker doing that job. If a job is
“these programmes frequent-         must oppose these pro-                  Information                                being done "unsafely," a good rule of
ly are implemented                  grammes with all our energy.            Nancy Lessin has prepared a What's
                                                                                                                       thumb is to "ask 'why?' five times."
unilaterally by employers,          Instead we must work just as            wrong with behavioural safety pro-         For example:
pitting worker against              hard to implement compre-               grammes?briefing for Hazards               Andrea got something in her eye at work.
                                                                            readers. It is available, along with       But why?
worker and undermining              hensive health and safety               other union-friendly resources, on the
                                                                            Hazards Unions and behavioural             Because she wasn't wearing her safety
union efforts to address            programmes that find and                                                           glasses.
                                                                            safety webpages at:
hazardous workplace condi-          eliminate unsafe workplace                             But why?
tions through concerted             conditions that cause injuries          Strategies to promote safe behaviour       Because they were all scratched up and
action.”                            and illness to our members.”            as part of a health and safety man-        she couldn't see out of them.
                                                                            agement system, CRR430/2002
   Nancy Lessin says unions            That's no BS. It's good              ISBN 0 7176 2352 1 price £15; also         But why?
have to be alert to dangers,        advice to unions in every               free in pdf format on the HSE research     Because her employer bought the really
and should have a ready             industry, everywhere.                   webpages. See page 30 for order            cheap glasses that get scratched all the
response.                                                                                                              time.
   "To counter manage-                                                                                                 But why?
ment's proposal of a                                                                                                   Because her employer wanted to save
behavioural safety
                                                                                                                       But why?
programme, unions can                                                                                                  Because profits are more important to
propose a comprehensive                                                                                                her employer than worker safety and
                                         Carrots and sticks
worksite health and safety                                                                                             health.
programme – focusing on                  Closely related to a behavioural safety approach are safety                   Asking "why" questions allows an in-
identifying and eliminating              incentive programmes and injury discipline policies.                          quiry to get to root causes – the source of
hazards and utilising the                Safety incentive programmes offer prizes when no injuries                     the problem that will need to change in
                                         are reported. Injury discipline policies deliver discipline or                order to bring about a safer workplace.
recognised hierarchy of con-             other punitive action such as drug testing when workers
trols, which supports the                                                                                              Unions can then strategise about what
                                         report injuries.                                                              it would take to get an employer to pur-
elimination of hazards                   An injury discipline programme popular in the US is the                       chase adequate personal protective
and the use of engineering               "Accident Repeaters Programme," which identifies workers                      equipment, or use engineering controls
controls as preferable to                who have had a certain number of injuries – usually one                       to eliminate the need for workers to wear
lower-level and less effective           or two in a 12 or 24 month period – and puts them in a pro-                   personal protective equipment, or in some
control measures such as                 gramme where they get: Counselling if they report another                     other way make the workplace safer.
                                         injury; a written warning for their next injury; suspension for               An approach that blames workers for
using personal protective                the next injury; and fired for a reported injury after that.                  their "bad behaviour" thwarts real
equipment.                               Another injury discipline programme popular in the US                         prevention efforts. It's management
   "To counter an employer-              assigns a points system to injuries reported and/or compen-                   behaviour that is putting workers' health
proposed safety incentive                sation claims filed. An injury requiring only medical care                    and lives at risk, and management be-
programme that offers prizes             and no days away from work is assigned one point; a lost-                     haviour that must change in order to
to workers who do not report             time accident is worth five points. When a worker reaches                     achieve safe and healthy workplaces.
                                         30 points, he or she is fired. Nancy Lessin
injuries, unions can propose
that rewards be offered to

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