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MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN about behavioral safety and the essential components of a behavioral safety system (Geller, 2001; Krause, 1997; McSween, 2003; Sulzer-Azaroff & Austin, 2000). While many different steps are discussed—and while many different terms have been used—authors in the field agree that behavioral safety consists of identifying behaviors which can lead to accidents and injuries; developing interventions to reduce the likelihood of these behaviors; conducting observations of work behavior; and providing feedback on safety performance (Komaki, Heinzmann & Lawson, 1980; Sulzer-Azaroff & Austin, 2000). Some systems even incorporate the use of reinforcement strategies to promote safe behavior (Austin, Kessler, Riccobono et al., 1996; Fox, Hopkins & Anger, 1987). Although a behavioral safety process encompasses many elements, conducting observations is a key component. Most times, there is no permanent product of safe or unsafe performance; this creates the need to directly observe worker behavior in order to record how safely a person (or group of people) is performing. In theory, these observations could be conducted by a consultant (or other third party), but they are typically conducted by employees and/or supervisors in the organization (McSween, 2003; Krause, 1997). One can cite many theoretical (as they are difficult to quantify reliably) benefits to having employees conduct safety observations (as opposed to a contractor hired solely for this purpose). These include increased employee participation; helping the process become part of the organization's culture; assisting with process maintenance; and generating additional discussion about safety in the workplace. In most cases, it is also more cost effective. Thanks to these benefits, many behavioral safety experts have concluded that using employee observers is the preferred method of data collection (McSween, 2003; Krause, 1997). An underlying premise of research endeavors is to help develop methods and applications of practice. Research should create usable, effective strategies that practitioners can apply to achieve change. While much of the behavioral safety research has been conducted using feedback and incentives to influence behavior change, little research has examined the effects of conducting observations as a subcomponent of the behavioral safety process (for one exception see Alvero & Austin, 2003, 2004). However, logic suggests that if workers are often the primary observers in behavioral safety processes, then it would be beneficial to know the effects of conducting observations within a behavioral safety system. Therefore, two primary purposes of this study were to: 1) assess the effects of conducting safety observations on the safety performance of the observer in an applied setting; and 2) evaluate the relationship between observation accuracy and observer behavior change. The Study A study conducted at a large hospital (323 licensed beds) sought to assess factors beyond the widely accepted theoretical benefits of having employees conduct observations. The research team wanted to examine whether safety performance improved as a result of having employees conduct ed them once a day alongside experimenters. The observations involved coworkers who did not conduct observations as part of the study. Participant observers also were trained on each dependent variable and observed each behavior alongside the experimental staff.
Successful organizations involve employees at all levels in various aspects of the business and value their input. To create a fully en-compassing corporate culture, employees must be involved and engaged and have the opportunity to provide input on changes to their workplace.
Safety performance is no exception. Studies have shown a positive link between employee engagement, employee involvement and safety performance. If changes that could affect safety are made without seeking employee input and involvement, it may be difficult to continuously improve safety performance within an organization over time.
By understanding the crucial role of supervisors in building and maintaining a successful safety culture, one can see the potential benefits of motivating them to become more engaged. But how is this accomplished? It begins with measuring and tracking their level of involvement as a leading indicator of future safety performance.
What Gets Measured Gets Improved
Versions of the phrase, What gets measured gets improved, are attributed to various people, from Lord Kelvin to W. Edwards Deming. Author and business consultant H. James Harrington describes it this way:
Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it. (Cited in Kaydos, 1999, p. 3)
Most safety professionals understand the value of this concept (i.e., measure, control, improve) and already apply it to their safety programs. This improvement method can be accomplished by measuring and tracking trends in safety performance using key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs generally fall into two categories: leading and lagging indicators.
Lagging indicators are considered reactive because they manifest after an incident. Examples of metrics in this category include injury statistics, number of environmental issues and number of incidents resulting in property damage. Leading indicators are said to be proactive because they are observed before an incident occurs. These indicators include audit scores, hazard recognitions and near-hits reported. Lagging indicators show where performance has been, while leading indicators suggest where it is likely to go (Manuele, 2013).
The benefit of identifying leading indicators is that when performance is heading in the wrong direction, organizations can still intervene before an incident occurs. But even traditional leading indicators are symptoms that manifest as a result of employee actions and behaviors (excluding some unsafe conditions).
So, wouldn’t it be great to measure what happens before those behaviors and symptoms occur? The good news is we can. To do this, companies must turn their focus to a different kind of leading indicator: the supervisor and his/her level of involvement in safety.
Great golfers do not set a target of making 18 eagles per round. Great hitters do not set a goal of batting 1.000 over a full baseball season. As terrific as it would be to shoot 36 or go 550-for- 550, standards of absolute perfection are not part of the professional sports landscape.
Yet, when it comes to safety and business, absolute perfection targets are common. Leaders follow logic that says if the company considers safety a priority it must be unwilling to accept even one injury and, therefore, it must set a target of zero. They believe that all injuries are preventable. They reason that if an organization can record one day without an injury, it can record 365 days without an injury. These leaders believe that employee effort and commitment may be the key obstacles to overcome when pursuing a perfect safety record.Zero-injury safety targets are easy to communicate and seem to be everywhere. However, such targets can be counterproductive to a company’s safety efforts if the context in which they are used is not thoroughly examined. Therefore, before setting zero as a safety target, a company should ask eight important questions.
Manufactured home construction is a construction strategy that involves manufacturing whole buildings on a permanent chassis in controlled factory environments and transporting them to sites for final setup. It is important to differentiate between manufactured buildings (formerly known as a mobile home) and modular building construction strategies.
Manufactured buildings are constructed based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development codes (HUD Code); whereas, modular buildings, like site-built buildings, are constructed according to state, local or regional building codes. The HUD Code requires that manufactured homes be constructed on a permanent chassis to provide transportability. In contrast, when a modular building arrives at its final location, it is hoisted off its conveying trailer and installed on its foundation (Becker, Fullen & Takacs, 2003).
Manufactured home construction started in the 1930s with the manufacture of recreational vehicles. Concerns regarding the safety, health and quality of these buildings initiated certain U.S. federal acts. In 1974, Congress passed the Federal Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act, which resulted in the development of a national manufactured-housing code, the HUD Code.
Durability, affordability, reduced construction delays and enhanced flexibility in terms of relocation are the distinctive advantages of manufactured homes (Apgar, Calder, Collins, et al., 2002). In addition, manufactured home production is a key strategy for increasing low-income home ownership rates, which is in line with the objectives of sustainable communities. The total shipment of manufactured homes in the U.S. decreased significantly after 1999; however, it started growing after 2009 (Figure 1, p. 36). Data for other types of mobile buildings are not currently available.