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Behaviour, the final frontier: A proven approach to changing organizational behaviour

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Abstract

A wise person once said "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got". Never was it more true than in the field of safety. More of the same approaches to safety will give organisations exactly the same outcomes. That is why many complain their safety performance appears to be stuck on a plateau. Despite all of their efforts over months and in many cases years, they are not seeing any discernible improvements. To get down the final slope towards a zero accident culture requires major changes in how companies and people approach safety in the workplace. To most managers, already besieged by deadlines, cost controls, staffing issues in an ageing workforce, national and international legislation, the idea of modifying corporate culture at the same time is perhaps a step too far. A complete change is essential if the ultimate goal is to be achieved. Society is demanding that organisations and the management of these organisations are held accountable for their safety performance. Charges of corporate manslaughter are no longer theoretical penalties, they are a fact of life. This paper discusses what is required of management to change safety behaviours and presents the results of a behavioural safety initiative which delivered tangible improvements in overall safety performance.