Behavior Change Communication: The Secret to Improving Driving Safety in the Workplace

Published on
January 30, 2024

In the last blog, we have already discussed the basics of Behavior-Based Communication. But for a smoother process, let me refresh your memory. 

What is Behavior-Based Safety?

Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) can be defined as a proactive approach within a workplace to increase safety and reduce hazards, risks, and accidents. The primary aim is to observe the behavior of the employees and attempt to analyze the underlying cause of unsafe behaviors. What follows is a strategic method including multiple processes such as behavioral safety training to replace unwanted behavior with a desired behavior that promotes workplace health and safety for all. The end result is the employees perform their tasks in the workplace safely. The main objective of the approach is to ingrain safe behaviors as a habit.

How does Communication fit in?

You must be wondering about the role played by communication in this entire process!

In the most basic of terms, Communication is the process of conveying information, knowledge, ideas, thoughts, emotions, or messages from one person to another. Effective communication is a vital component of every aspect of life, from personal relationships to professional settings. Communication also helps to create a sense of community and promotes social cohesion. In the workplace, effective communication is critical in achieving organizational goals and improving productivity.

Communication is also an important element of Behavior-Based Safety. When communicating for behavior change, it is essential to create messages that resonate with the intended audience i.e. the employees, using language and framing that is familiar and understandable to them. In order to promote behavior change and workplace safety, communication should be designed to be persuasive, informative, and engaging.

Leveraging Health Communication: Key Takeaways

Health Communication is a comprehensive approach to the process of advocating for and improving individual or public health outcomes. Its aim is to promote health literacy, encourage healthy behaviors, and prevent disease through effective communication strategies. Health communication involves understanding the cultural and social factors that impact health behaviors and tailoring messages to address the specific needs of different populations.

Heath Communication and Behavior-Based Safety share their affinities in terms of understanding the root cause of unsafe/unhealthy behaviors and disseminating correct information/messages to inculcate the desired behaviors. Moreover, social and behavior change communication is an integral part of health communication that aims to influence individuals' behaviors and promote positive health outcomes. Behavior Change Communication (BCC) involves the use of targeted messaging and interventions that are designed to promote behavior change.

When it comes to behavior-based safety (BBS), BCC can be used to promote safety behaviors in the workplace. By understanding the factors that drive unsafe behaviors, BCC interventions can be designed to target these specific issues and promote safer practices. Behavior Change Communication can be used to encourage employees to adopt safety practices and avoid unsafe behaviors. It is an effective tool to promote workplace safety. It can be used to address unsafe behaviors in various workplace settings such as those practiced by forklift operators (improper use of signals to warn pedestrians, overspeeding, etc.) or construction workers while dealing with heavy machinery. 

Setting Behavioral and Communication Goals 

As we have already established the correlation between Behavior-Based Safety and Health Communication, let us walk through a few basic steps of how a health communication campaign operates and how it can be customized to suit safety needs with the aim of achieving a total safety culture. 

  1. Proper Identification of the target segment - Before implementing any strategies, it is vital to identify the target segment properly. This aids in the process of structuring the necessary workplace safety-related messaging. In any workplace, the first task is to identify the primary participants (i.e. the employees themselves), the secondary participants (ex. - managers, supervisors, etc.), and the tertiary participants (ex. Workers union, etc.). As a safety professional, you need to understand how these groups interact and how they influence the decisions of the primary group whose behavior needs to be corrected. 

  1. List your Behavioral Goals - Once, the target audience has been and the unsafe workplace behaviors identified, it is time to set up your behavioral goals. A proper behavioral analysis is necessary at this point to understand why the employees engage in such risky practices. Behavioral Goals are the specific positive behavioral change you desire to achieve. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART)

Below is a hypothetical example of how to set up behavioral goals for different participants. For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on driving safety in the workplace. With road accidents claiming 1.3 million lives every year globally, ensuring the safety of field employees on the road is an important aspect of workplace safety. Here, we have assumed that the field employees' unsafe driving behaviors need to be changed as Field Force Driving Safety is an indispensable element of employee safety.

Table 1 - Behavioral Goals
Table 1 - Behavioral Goals

  1. Setting Up Communication Objectives - Once you have determined the behavior goals, it is time to create communication objectives that will act as a guide to all communication efforts. This step streamlines the strategizing process and improves the effectiveness of all future communication. 

For this, we will continue with the aforementioned example and draft the communication objectives in relation to the behavioral goals. This enables clarity of what needs to be done to achieve said goals.

Table 2 - Communication Objectives
Table 2 - Communication Objectives

  1. Communication Strategy Design - Communication has many channels to its name. To get the desired results, you will need to plan out your communication strategy. You will need to decide how, when, and where will you communicate. For basic circulation of information, you can choose to use flyers, pamphlets, brochures, or even online pdfs, among others. Peer Education (wherein employees themselves teach others about safe behaviors), group discussions, and training are other plausible interventions. You have to keep in mind whether the medium, language and style of communication used is easily comprehensible to the target group of employees. For example - if English is used for all forms of communication,  it might neglect a few employees who aren’t that fluent in the language. All these intricacies have to be kept in mind while selecting the channel of communication and designing the message. 

What’s in store next?

Stay alert because next month we are bringing to you Behavior Change Models that will help you understand the fundamental cause behind unsafe behaviors and help you in developing effective interventions to address them. 

SafetyConnect: How can it help in Behavior Change Communication?

SafetyConnect’s Driving Safety Solution primarily focuses on analyzing the at-risk driving behavior of field employees. This solution enables you to properly identify the most common unsafe driving behavior exhibited by field employees as well as to pinpoint your target group (i.e. the most unsafe drivers). It also serves as one of the best tools to analyze the success of your Behavior-Based Safety Program with detailed reports of safety scores. SafetyConnect’s multiple features such as push notifications, knowledge center, and newsfeed, make it a perfect communication tool for disseminating appropriate messages. Integrate SafetyConnect into your safety regime by booking a demo.

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