Blow your own Horn


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One of my clients in South Africa (ZA)  instituted a People Based Safety (PBS) program about 4 years back.  As you recall this was the time the Football (soccer) World Cup was hosted by ZA in 2010.  The Vuvuzela, a plastic horn that produces a loud bellowing sound, is a common noise-making tool for football spectators in ZA and the intensity of its use in the 2010 World Cup was impossible to miss.  There were estimates that Vuvuzela use exceeded 120 dB during matches.

In one of the mine construction locations in the east of the country the PBS team were looking for ways to increase observations.  Obviously the World Cup was on everyone's mind in this football-loving country.  So the employees on the PBS team decided to use the ubiquitous horn in their campaign. 

Here's how it worked.  At random intervals during the work shift a PBS team member would blow a Vuvuzela whose high bellow you could hear throughout the site.  When the Vuvuzela was sounded, everyone who safely could stopped work and did a behavioral safety observation on themselves or someone close to them.  They were also encouraged to get a drink of fluid and adjust any PPE or guards.  Turning in the observation cards was optional.

In that year, this site had the highest reduction of injuries of any project in the company's history.

I appreciate when safety teams out there find creative ways to increase participation and don't resort to monitory incentives (see the Anatomy of Pencil Whipping and You Get What You Pay For blogs).  So send me your creative ideas and we will post them here!


Hi Tim, I like this introduction of the non routine, the blemish, the mild irritant to keep folks alert...what happened the year after? If people became habituated to the horn how long did it take? Regards John


That's a great example of the real power of behavior based safety to share with business people who may not be familiar with it. Among the key attributes are:
1) It was effective in improving safety.
2) It was low cost and easy to implement.
3) It focused on proactive measures such as proper use of PPE rather than reactive post-accident investigations and countermeasures.
4) The varible interval schedule enabled by the Vuvzela ensured a high steady rate of safe behavior between horn blasts.
5) Social reinforcment from peers was provided at no recurring cost.                       

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