Safety in the workplace is essential whenever there are great amounts of potential energy at work around and beside where workers also work. Nowhere is this more true than in a power station environment. High voltages, large machines that spin at hundreds and sometimes even thousands of revolutions per minute, piping systems carrying large volumes of various process fluids at high temperatures and pressures, and all the dangers of handling, transporting, preparing, and burning combustibles.
Such an environment is a breeding ground for accidents.
In Behaviour Based Safety (BBS-an acronym that fits such programs), there is NO SUCH THING as accidents. There are incidents, and each one of these have a causality chain that just so happens to prove the employee liable and absolving the company of all liability.
Isn’t that a convenient?
Unions are well aware of what BBS represents for their members, as well as all workers. Imagine if such programs existed at the turn of the 20th century. Imagine blaming the workers of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, the Texas City oil refinery fire, and any of the many coal mine disasters right here in our own state.
That is exactly what such programs are designed to do.
Many national and international unions recognize such programs for what they are and are educating their members to the dangers they face in just trying to do their jobs. Here are some useful links: United Auto Workers, United Steelworkers(1), United Steel Workers (2), even the AFL-CIO has recognized what BBS represents.
The argument is that “traditional” safety programs did not work because they failed to prevent accidents, opening the door for a new approach. Behaviour Based Safety was born. In it’s purest form, BBS was supposed to remove the blame, and accusatory elements, that many blamed for their safety program failures, and instead use a cooperative approach in dissecting each accident into it’s basic facts and then attempt to address the human performance aspect to nullify future events.
So did it work?
Dupont, which was key in BBS development, adopted and implimented the program. According to the United Steelworkers, Dupont’s results are less than stellar, as detailed in their report, “Stop Not Walking The Walk-Duponts Untold Safety Failures.“
Proponets of BBS claim that the behavior based safety model is sound and anywhere that the program failed was because it was improperly implimented or that the adverarial relationship between the company and the workers (or their unions) poisoned the purity and well intentioned attempt by those companies to address their safety responsibilities. One safety consulting firm even published the “7 Deadly Sins” of BBS programs.
In a game of “one up-manship”, corporations have even used their BBS programs to acquire the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s accreditation under the Voluntary Protection Program, or VPP. So not only do they feel are they absolved of all liabilities for providing a safe workplace, they gain the added caviat of not being inspected regularly by the federal agency tasked with ensuring worker safety. VPP has had many critics and updates, and even a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that identifies many areas for improvement.
The result is a more dangerous working environment for all workers whose employers weild this double edged sword that slashes through skin and bone just as it shreds safety standards established over the past decade and a half of the industrial revolution and paid for in the blood of workers killed on the job. Many wonder if VPP is broken. Unions are dealing with both BBS and VPP, and agree that the union must own their workplace safety, since the company won’t, and are educating their members in working in this new environment of “blame the worker” philosophy.
What it all means is that the rich get richer at the expense of working people and that wealth is further protected by both programs that deflects responsibility of providing safe workplaces.
There are no upcoming events.