BBS Certification Discussion

This Discussion is based on a previous blog on Certification of BBS.

Sebastiano Cannata • Hello Tim, 
I'm sorry for my english 
it is an honor for me to write! 
I have implemented the B-BS in the company where I work, the Longarone Diab; was present at the B-BS congress in Rome. I think that to prove that the process is giving results must: 
- Every observer faces a minimum of 2 observations per week 
- Safe behavior is increased (for example, if the use of PPE has increased) 
- People are more sensitive to safety 
- The safety leaders have more leadership and more commitment 
- the company is strongly committed to safety 
- And, most important result, that accidents decrease (even slowly) and that for example, after 3-4 years, are reduced at least by 60-70%. 
All this is very difficult, but you have to work with passion to get there! 
Best regard

Tim Ludwig • Sebastiano, 

I appreciate you writing your suggestions and your attendance at the B-BS conference in Rome. At that conference I met many people focused on adapting B-BS for the Italian culture. I had many great responses to my presentations as well as hard questions. 

Keep up the good.. and hard... work. 

I will bring your suggestions to the Task Force. 


Tim Ludwig • Shawn, 
As I understand it... 
Italy has a current law that requires some form of BBS training for safety professionals. I think the plan is to have those training providers (Universities) to enhance the current training to include Certifier training. Part of the Certification process being developed is a document outlining what should be in that training and should it go beyond the classroom.

Any and all suggestions are welcomed. 


Bill Robb • One of the difficulties I find in discussions about BBS and BS is that we use those terms with only a vague understanding of what they mean/stand for. Has anyone come accross a succint definition of BBS or BS. To me BBS and BS are different things. Why do we calle it behaviour-based safety and not just behavioural safety? What are people really getting at when they say "behavioural" because it could be meaningles - how can human NOT behave. When we sleep or stand still or talk, we are behaving.

Tim Ludwig • Bill Robb: Thanks for your comment. For the Certification the Task Force created a consensus around the definition and core processes of "Behavior-Based Safety". We hope to get the definition document on the internet for scrutiny soon. 

In my viewpoint, BBS speaks to the typical observation & feedback process seen in most applications of behavioral safety. Behavioral Safety, on the other hand, is the higher order label for applications of behavioral science to industrial safety. Behavioral safety analyzes, designs, and implements validated applications of behavioral pinpoints, antecedent (stimulus control) and consequence contingency management that may include targeting behaviors of leaders and supervisors along with worker behavior. Behavioral safety will also work within a systems perspective to help safety professionals refine other safety management systems to be more effective in influencing the safety and reporting behaviors that go into a successful safety program.

Natividade Gomes Augusto • Hello to All. Sorry for my bad English. I am leading a portuguese team that makes implementation of behavioral safety programs and act in the market Luso (Africa, Brazil and Portugal). I think the certification will not help much, because there are requirements / elements of the programs that adapt to each country / organization and no longer work for others country or organization. Thus, it becomes difficult to publish a certification standard will global scale. I agree with Nicola when speaks in safety performance. The basis for success of a program are not behavioral observations, but the focus of change has to be in the antecedents, in the beliefs. The observations help initially. Working this matter is how to work as a living organism, we have to feed it daily to be successful, otherwise die.

Tim Ludwig • Natividade Gomes Augusto: I agree that this will be one of the biggest challenges to Certification. As I understand it, because of Italian labor/business law, most companies try to remain small. Therefore, to adapt BBS certification to small companies, in different industries, and different parts of a diverse country is a big challenge. Good point.

Nicola Bottura • I have collaborated in a workgroup of a Certification Body to the realization of a standard for the certification of BBS processes (in this case the certifier could operate under the accreditation of the National Accreditation Body). When I propose this standard to our customers they answer - more or less - so: “We know that the BBS process has improved our safety KPI and reduced (in some case to 0) the LTI: why should we “certify” the process?”. 
I think that probably the key of the BBS success is the impact on safety performance rather than a certification system. What are your opinion and your experience?

Ricardo Montero Martínez • I think that the certification of Safety Management System of any type is only a business imitating the certification of quality or environment system. From the experience of these certifications: which are the advantages for the organizations? In the case of quality, the reason is the commerce, OK. In the case of environment I have not find any good reason, image?, perhaps, but the experience is that even in the World Environment Global Forums, the presidents of the countries only shown worlds, any actions regarding environments. In the case of safety?, to be certified in, for example OSHA 18000 does not means that your performance in safety be good, neither at the time of certification less in the future, the same letter of the standard declare it. 
Why to certify BBS processes?, for the business of someone, no for more. OK, it is licit to try of making money, but not from my advice, I think that it is completely unsense for a company to spend money in certifying anything that never increase the value of their products or services.

Tim Ludwig • Nicola Bottura and Ricardo Martinez: Plead read the article that started this discussion (on and you'll see some comments about my overall misgivings about Certification. Based on your comments I think we may have the same initial concerns about Certification. 

However, consider the context. Italy, in fact all of Europe, is very bureaucratic (at least by American comparisons). They great contribution to quality was ISO9000 which essentially took the more organic TQM and Deming-type programs (which are much like our version of BBS) and turned it into a fairly successful process of certification and the bureaucracy that went with it. 

One may say that this has lead to some of their economic problems in that businesses are hand-tied in many ways. 

But in this context, my colleagues in Europe suggest, the only way for BBS to take hold is to document its best practices, link it to science, and create a certification scheme that has support among industry and government. 

I was actually asked to be on the Certification task force because I am a scientist and because I am a skeptic of Certification. So, I considered that certification is happening anyway so I would hope to shape it into a useful force for injury reduction. My challenge, as I try to lay out in the article, is to have this organic attitude for BBS focusing on People and help shape Certification. Its an interesting question of shaping the measures that don't mandate but motivate. 

I doubt we'll be able to nail certification perfectly but I hope my (and people like us) influence can scale down the knee-jerk bureaucracy and scale up the indicators of voluntary participation.

Tim Ludwig • Nicola Bottura: Regarding your comment on the impact of BBS on safety performance... The task force is creating three levels of certification (see the article on The biggest, level 3 certification is showing actual injury reduction. 

Thanks for all the comments and good ideas! Tim

Ricardo Montero Martínez • Yes Tim, but absolutely all the incidents are the results of behaviour. The 
clasification between acts and conditions only is a confusion method for 
trying of differenciating acts near the incident and acts far from the 
incident, but influencing in it by its consecuences -named unsafe 
conditions-. Why BBS are only related to the acts ocurring near the 
incidents? The superficial treatment of the cause analysis of behaviours is 
the more poweful tool for critizing the method. And the workers very 
quickly guess that management is trying of responsabilizing them with the 
prevention. In consecuence, workers, and unions, can be very reluctant of 
supporting BBS processes. Of course, this nothing have to see with BBS 
methodology, but with applications avoiding to deep into the real causes of 
safety behaviours. Perhaps definitions like the upcoming in the future, 
proposed by Tim Ludwig could take these opinions into account.


I found your email interesting and realize the gap between how people see BBS.   Personally, I don't believe the essence of BBS is certifiable.   Sure, the process is.  You can spec it out and certify to your heart's desire.  Yet for me, that makes people and organizations to mechanized or "machine" like.  Cause how do you spec out and certify the human spirit?   How do you measure the heart of a person in a moment of choice to care for another?   Isn't that BBS?   I have always seen the BBS process as a thing of the spirit, not as much of mechanics.    
More recently I've found a few organizations that have increasingly sound cultures of "actively caring" or what I call "Informal Observations" growing like crazy.  And these cultures were not as much driven by a BBS process (one organization doesn't even have a formal BBS process) as they were driven by developing teams throughout the organization that meet daily to "produce" safety just as they produce revenue generating product.    There seems to be a direct relationship between the natural evolution of people's relationships and their growing actively caring culture.  I suspect this is the "Belonging" factor of the Geller 5 Person States.   It's fueled even more when employees have choices and are treated respectfully with growing esteem.   I am seeing more the natural development of relationship as a cause of cultural excellence to take care of one another.   So with limited resources, shouldn't organizations invest energy into nurturing relationships rather than certifying processes?   I suspect the answer is do both yet it concerns me that so many organizations don't have the resources for both nor the mindsets in management to think that diversely.  I'm questioning more these days that organizations with limited resources should put energy into a BBS process or developing a culture of relationship and personal commitment.   I don't see them as the same, yet I see value in both.   It's the tradeoff of which to focus people on in a wild world of too many things to do and too many "flavor of the month" programs employees everywhere seem to have had the experience of.   I think it's cause we over focus on process and underfocus on people and their spirit in BBS - their degree of personal meaning and commitment (or passion).
Regardless, I will keep an eye out for your achievements in the advancement of certification.   While I believe it's focus may be too mechanical for me and takes us away from the essence of what Geller was helping the world see with People-Based Safety, I do believe in anything that reduces injuries and fatalities as a good thing.  So, no doubt furthering attention to an improved BBS process is good for lowering injuries.   I am torn personally with a strong sense that the more valuable work is building what Scott has identified as the 5 Person States throughout the organization.   Personally, I've seen too many organizations that have done BBS for 10-15 years now where employees tell me that the percent of time they actually informally will speak up if a peer is at risk is still 30% of the time or less.    Will certifying BBS increase that?   And I find some companies that haven't ever done a BBS process but they look out for each other continually - it's who they are.   It's these facts that create bigger questions and keep us learning.

Ekeh A.C,  HSE Department,  Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation

I think observation count is a good measure but not mandated observations. You may also consider grading implementation in Stage 1 such that a BBS programme that is faithfully implemented and maintained with commitment and sustained effort qualifies for Stage 2 leading to the expectation that without major lapses it will result to reduced injuries and hence qualify for Stage 3 eventually.

Eric Biernbaum, Lytle Electric Co., Inc.

1.       I feel that a company should have as many observers as possible, especially if it a fixed establishment and not subjected to an ever fluctuating workforce as we see in construction.  The company should make the commitment to train 100% initially and have a plan established to train in the future allowing for attrition.  If 100% is not feasible, then As many as possible, again with a plan to train the remaining workers as time/budget allows.  The process would be peer to peer (assumption) and could experience increased value from a larger body of observers. 

2.       I have never been as concerned with the number of observations as I have the % involvement.  I am not discounting the number of observations, many need to be done.  The number of observations gives account of how active the observers are without regard to the number of observers active.  Join the two and you have something.

3.       Useful feedback is any feedback that drives the desired change…..repeatable desired behavior. 

4.       Actionable trends could be tracked from the data.

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