U.S. Department of Transportation


Date of this Version



Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop On Human Factors In Offshore Operations '02. Huston, Texas, April 8-10, 2002.


The introduction of the behavioral-based safety process in the offshore industry over the past decade has had a significant impact on safety in general and the offshore safety culture in particular. The Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) process compliments Human Factors Engineering (HFE) efforts in the struggle to improve safety by minimizing the risk in the hazardous offshore environment. The behavioral-based safety process and HFE both focus on the workers by taking advantage of their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses.

The four key steps of the behavior based safety process are as follows:

1. Identifying behaviors – Identification of and operationally defining the behaviors that make up the pool of risk is the first step. This is most commonly accomplished by studying a statistically valid sample of past incident reports and extracting the behaviors that facilitated the injury. The objective is to validate these and then to develop an operational definition of wht it looks like when the employee is executing the behavior in a risk averse manner.

2. Gathering data – This second step is to sample the occurrence of these identified critical behaviors out in the workplace. This measure is a proactive stimulus or predictor of whether there is likely to be an injury or not.

3. Providing performance feedback – This step trains the sampler to reinforce the safe behavior the employee is doing and dig in and find out why the behaviors that are being donne in a risky manner are being done that way.

4. Removing system barriers.- Lastly this step is to take the data from sampling and feedback and to use it as the impetus to do intervention at the system level.

The primary objective of HFE is to design the workplace or system to eliminate or minimize the potential for human error. The behavioral-based safety process uses a continuous improvement process based on observations and positive feedback to pinpoint at risk behaviors and weaknesses in management systems. Thus, whereas HFE’s goal is to build a work environment that is as safe as practical, the behavioral-based safety process tackles the difficult task of identifying and rectifying bad habits and gaps in management systems with the ultimate goal of creating a safety culture that supports safe behaviors. Together, the two processes complement one another in improving safety by minimizing the risk in the hazardous offshore environment.

This paper presents the overlap and interaction between HFE and Behavior-Based Safety in managing workgroups safety performance. For example, It will highlight how BBS tools can provide useful feedback to the facility designer for consideration in improving the design, and in the design of future facilities. After introducing three categories of critical safety-related behaviors: enabled, difficult, and non-enabled, the paper discusses the primary concepts of the behavior-based approach to accident prevention. It then sketches six current myths about behavior-based safety, and addresses them through a detailed presentation of the four key activities of Behavior-Based Safety at the level of the workgroup. This paper will focus on what works and does not. Frequent references will be made to BAPP®, one approach fostered by Behavioral Science Technology (BST) for illustration sake. It is one of many available approaches that operationalizes the principles of BBS. A sample listing of some other available BBS approaches and programs are identified in the reference section of this paper.