I have been using 'applied behaviour analysis' tools to improve business and project performance for seven years now. It is a subject I believe should be added to our schools curriculum and university engineering courses.
We have developed a pattern of generic safety behaviour in our industry which, predictably, can turn well-meaning safety professionals into traffic wardens while directors demand improvements in safety without understanding their role in how the current unsafe cultures were formed.
I like to differentiate between 'compliance safety' and 'real safety', the former being a paper chase and the latter actually working to provide a safe place for people to work.
Using the threat of punishment is scientically proven to be a poor driver of desired behaviour. Behaviour is driven by the perceived consequences to the performer and there are many examples I have seen of safe work environments created by enlightened site managers who realise this fact.
Constantly creasing penalties and threats has not improved safety in the last 12 years. It's time for us to get enlightened regarding human behaviour.
Howard Lees (F), hlees@ hollinconsulting. co. uk