Unifor’s position on BBS – Behaviour Based Safety

/storage/emulated/0/.polarisOffice5/polarisTemp/image2.png Health and Safety Report ,   June 24th 2019

Unifor National Union and Local 199 GM H&S reps are strongly opposed to Behaviour Based Safety programs.

Rather than focusing on the inefficiencies or failures within the workplace accident prevention system, Behaviour Based Safety programs are developed to blame the worker by focusing on worker behaviours. BBS programs appeal to many employers because they simplify health and safety and suggest that stopping unsafe behaviour through discipline is easier that fixing the actual hazard. Rather than focus on management’s legal responsibility under the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), an accident is assumed to be human error and therefore worker blame or discipline is the corrective action. This approach will never proactively identify the root cause of a hazard. Corrective actions that could prevent an occurrence of an incident or accident are only identified after the incident.

The other concerning issue of BBS programs is tracking lost time work days and the “reward approach”, where workers are promised pizza parties, BBQ lunch or jackets, etc. for working safe. This pressures workers to suppress raising safety concerns and develops a culture of peer pressure to NOT report incidents or injury. Our concern is that if it’s not reported, it can’t be identified, if it can’t be identified, it can’t be corrected.

What Does Unifor Support? We supporta strong Internal Responsibility System with responsible, progressive action through the Joint Health and Safety Committee to address incident reduction and recommend practical prevention solutions such as MOC, SFMEA, comprehensive Safety training, on-the-job training and regular reviews of Standardized Work. A strong IRS can lead to a strong culture of health and safety. Strong leadership by Senior Staff and other managers sets the tone and establishes a corporate culture that nurtures the IRS. A health and safety culture requires all workplace parties to pay constant, appropriate attention to workplace health and safety. A sustainable workplace health and safety culture needs a strong commitment by all the workplace parties to prevent injuries and illness and to reduce risk. Workplace safety is EVERYONE’S business.

Our role is pretty easy.

Safety is a decision, and we can decide right here and now to work more safely by:

  • Taking our own safety at work seriously.
  • Consciously focus on safety throughout your workday.
  • Hold our employer and co-workers accountable to high safety standards.

We come to work every day, but we don’t expect to be injured. We expect our employer to provide a safe work environment and to ensure protection from job hazards. That’s not unrealistic. We have a right to a safe and healthful work environment. But our employer is not the only ones responsible for our safety. We all share the responsibility for encouraging a safety culture for ourselves and our peers that values safe work practices and safety programs in a positive, proactive way. How? By getting involved. Make a commitment today to take an active role in safety. Don’t wait until something happens and an injury takes over your life or someone else’s. If you think a job or a task is unsafe, stop the work. If you see something unsafe, report it. Immediately notify your co-workers and G/L of any damaged equipment or hazardous conditions. Speak up. Give suggestions to make a process or equipment safer. No one knows your job and tools better than you do. Never operate equipment or machinery unless you’ve been properly trained. Ask questions. If you don’t understand a safety policy, task or process, you may be putting yourself and your co-workers at needless risk. Talk to your G/L if you have any concerns. Talk to your Union Reps who can discretely intervene on your behalf. Promptly report all work related injuries, illnesses and near misses to your G/L. By getting involved and speaking up, you’ll gain confidence, leadership skills and a sense of ownership that will help you identify job hazards and take the appropriate precautions to protect yourself and others. That’s being responsible at work.

Our employer’s role is pretty straight forward:

  • Provide a safe, healthful work environment for its employees.
  • Demonstrate a high value of safety by creating a culture of safety within the company.
  • Encourage shared responsibility for safety among all salary and hourly employees.

Even though Safety is a shared responsibility, the employer is responsible for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to provide a place of employment that’s as free as possible from recognized hazards under the regulatory compliance of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. But legal compliance may not be enough to keep its employees safe. Safety in the workplace requires a culture of vigilance, where everyone pays attention to safety and encourages others to be safe as well. Management can be supportive by encouraging their employees to perform their tasks safely and by motivating them to participate in safety improvement Workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities are not inevitable. They are not a cost of doing business. Developing a culture of safety  can prevent incidents, reduce lost work time to injury, keep valued employees on the job and productive, and lower costs associated with injuries. Safety isn’t just a business responsibility, it’s a business advantage. We workers are General Motors most important asset. We deserve to be treated with respect and protected while on the job with the support we need so we can work safely and return home to our families every day. If safety is more about enforcement rather than reinforcement, employees are more likely to make poor choices when it comes to safety performance and behaviors. On the other hand, if safety isn’t well defined, consistently communicated and progressively enforced, workers may interpret this message as a green light to break the rules and skip crucial life-saving steps. How management views workplace safety filters down to workers.

Management needs to promote a positive safety culture that engages employees to learn how to perform tasks safely and keep skills current. If management’s attitude toward training is that it’s too expensive and takes too much time—or that it is forced to provide training out of mandatory compliance—the impression is that management doesn’t care about workers’ well-being.  Our Employer can show its workers that they take our safety and training seriously bysupportively encouraging their employees to perform their tasks safely and by motivating them to participate in safety improvements by:

  • Increasing interpersonal interactions with employees and discussing safety-related initiatives.
  • Ensuring that safe work practices are communicated and understood by employees.
  • Encourage safe behaviors and performance by engaging in meaningful coaching practices and hands-on skills building.
  • Get workers involved in the decision-making process for improving unsafe practices and behavior by identifying and correcting hazards.
  • Giving employees an opportunity to express their safety concerns.
  • Implementing policies where safety is an expectation.
  • Leading by example; such as being visible, positively emphasizing worker contributions and wearing PPE in established work zones.

These are the shared Duties under the law as per Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act:

Workers must:

  • Follow the law and workplace health and safety policies and procedures.
  • Wear and use the protective equipment required by their employer.
  • Work and act in a way that won’t hurt themselves or anyone else.
  • Report any hazards or injuries to their supervisor.


Employers must NOT take action against workers for following the law and raising health and safety concerns.

Employers must:

  • Make sure workers know about hazards and dangers by providing information, instruction and supervision on how to work safely.
  • Make sure supervisors know what is required to protect workers’ health and safety on the job.
  • Create workplace health and safety policies and procedures.
  • Make sure everyone follows the law and the workplace health and safety policies and procedures.
  • Make sure workers wear and use the right protective equipment.
  • Do everything reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers from being hurt or getting a work-related illness.

Supervisors must:

  • Tell workers about hazards and dangers and respond to their concerns.
  • Show workers how to work safely, and make sure they follow the law and workplace health and safety policies and procedures.
  • Make sure workers wear and use the right protective equipment.
  • Do everything reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers from being hurt or getting a work-related illness.

Have a safe and enjoyable summer, shutdown and vacation with your friends and family! Play safe!