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Anita Steyn is a senior consultant with the National Occupational Safety Assocation of South Africa (NOSA).  She will present a pre-conference workshop at the upcoming African Utility Week’s track for Large Power Users on “Behaviour based safety for supervisors”.

Anita Steyn

For someone who is new to this subject, what is a Behaviour Based Safety Process?  
A behaviour based safety process is a formal approach to address human behaviour in the workplace, using occupational health and safety and environmental legislation as a pivotal point.

Where would you suggest a company start when implementing safety procedures?

A company would need a safety management system.  The backbone of the system is usually the risk assessment process and the safety procedures will be documented and then implemented.

Why does investing in a Behaviour Based Safety Process make good business sense?  Can you give us some of the case studies as examples?
The investment changes the thought process in people and cultivates a set of new behaviours which over time drives a new culture – a culture of ownership and personal responsibility.

Two case studies:
A Smelter operation:  as an example where a behaviour-based safety process was implemented and results of a good investment are evident in the sustainable reduction of total recordable case rate and higher profits.  

A Mine: as an example where a behaviour-based safety process was implemented but the principles of good investment were not followed, resulting in injuries still being covered up and lower profits.

How do you take a company’s culture into account when doing a risk assessment?  Can you share some of the real life examples?
The maturity level of the organisation, the management style of leadership, the type of industry and the type of people and their perceptions and skills are all very important factors to measure to ensure effectiveness of the risk assessment process.

Any organisation can have the best systems and processes in place but these are only as effective as the ENERGY employed and their application of the methodology and quality of engagement and understanding of the subject.

Construction, mining and heavy industry examples will be used as case studies.

You mention that “Minds can be rewired in the workplace” – please explain this.
In South-Africa we naturally have a lot of human beings with ANT’s (Automatic Negative Thoughts) linked to our negative apartheid years.

These thoughts enter the workplace as negative energy, which can be destructive.

Change starts with a choice and is followed with a decision and backed by actions (behaviours).  Human beings by default do not like change and usually keep on making the same mistakes.  It is a process that is followed.

What do you think are the main challenges with regards to safety in the workplace today?
Undefined organisational risk culture profiles.  Most organisations have met the legal requirements of having the risk assessments in place, yet, it is not understood and applied by all people at all levels within the organisation.

Larger volumes of contract employees as opposed to permanent employees and high staff turnover, increases the organisation’s risk profile.

What surprises you about this sector?
The fact that a lot of organisations still do not understand how important it is to handle their most powerful energy, namely people, with care and respect.

What will be your most important message at African Utility Week?
ENERGY contained in people can be the most POWERFUL AND POSITIVE source IF handled in the correct way …. Or the most VOLATILE and DESTRUCTIVE source.