Behavioural risk and human failure

Do people in your workplace use shortcuts to try and get things done? Are hazards in the workplace sometimes left unreported? Do you put a high reliance on people ‘doing things the right way’ to avoid incidents and harm?

If the answer to any of these is yes, we can help optimise your work processes to avoid errors, mistakes and violations. We help you proactively manage the underlying causes of unsafe acts before those behaviours occur.

Why you should consider assessing the potential for unsafe acts

Have you had employees not following procedures and putting themselves and others at risk? Do you find employees doing things in unexpected higher risk ways? If so you should consider this service – Human Reliability Assessment – to help you deal with root causes of unsafe acts and pre-empt serious incidents.

Foreseeability of unsafe acts

People at work sometimes take risks and act in ways that initially seem unexpected. Assessing the foreseeability of unsafe acts is a key area of our work; identifying types of act that could occur, potential root causes that have knock-on effects (hence the dominos!), and how to deal with them proactively.

Unsafe acts are often predictable if we look at the circumstances and conditions that people work in. Unfortunately this is often only done after something has gone wrong. However it can be done proactively and predictions can be made of reasonably foreseeable human failures.

This involves:

  • Identifying your key activities with potential for unsafe acts’
  • Identifying foreseeable adverse behaviours – Task Analysis
  • Identifying potential underlying root causes of adverse behaviour (i.e. PIFs – Performance Influencing Factors)
  • Taking steps to prevent adverse behaviours from happening, and/or
  • Reducing the risk of them happening, and/or
  • Putting measures in place to reduce the consequences if they do happen.

How SMEs can benefit from Human Reliability Assessments

Anticipating and preventing unsafe acts can save businesses a great deal of cost and lost time, and can save individuals from severe injury or worse.

Smaller businesses proportionally have a high exposure in terms of business risk (financial, legal and reputation) from unsafe acts, which is one reason why Guildford Ergonomics has a specific aim of helping SMEs in this area.

Some typical examples of unsafe acts in SMEs and across broader industry include:

  • Not isolating machinery before servicing and cleaning
  • Failure to wear correct PPE
  • Use of incorrect or poorly maintained tools and devices
  • Leaving unsafe situations without fixing or reporting them
  • Failing to use equipment provided to make jobs safer (e.g. handling aids)
  • Working at height without taking necessary precautions

Guildford Ergonomics is especially committed to working with SMEs as well as larger organisations on foreseeability of unsafe acts. We have specialist tools specifically aimed at helping SMEs. These proactively identify underlying factors that could shape negative behaviours such as risk taking and procedure violations. We will then work with you to manage underlying factors and put in place risk reduction measures.

Is this Behaviour Based Safety?

A well-designed and implemented Behaviour Based Safety (BBS) program has some valuable and effective elements. Our view is that those should form part of a broader holistic approach. Our approach maintains an ongoing focus on identifying the true root causes (or potential causes) of risky behaviours. So in a nutshell – our approach is not Behaviour Based Safety, but it includes what we believe are the best aspects of that approach.

Download our free behavioural risk assessment tool

Guildford Ergonomics has developed a unique behavioural risk assessment tool which you can download as a free Adobe PDF file by clicking below. Although the file you download is a pdf you can enter data into it and save it, make changes etc. (the information you put into the file is yours alone and stays local to the pdf). This tool will give you a useful interactive overview of the types of issues that can affect how people behave at work.

Download pdf checklist

The legal duty to assess risk of (and from) unsafe acts

Adverse Human Behaviour/unsafe acts is a known and foreseeable workplace risk and guidance exists to help deal with it. This means there are legal duties to manage and control the risks of (and from) adverse employee behaviour. For all non-major-hazard sites, these duties are based in the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended).