160 Safety Saves Billions

Based on research by Hermann, Jaime A., et al. (2010), adapted by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D.

How can companies save billions? Occupational injury and illness cost U.S. companies an estimated $250 billion in 2007. Behavior-based safety or BBS programs demonstrate that targets and documenting behavior change saves lives, money and productivity. Successful safety interventions include interviews with previously injured workers; the establishment of safety performance objectives for supervisors; a weekly safety review with systemic data collection; and managers provide immediate and weekly feedback about workers’ safe and unsafe behaviors.

These programs have been used to help injury rates at numerous industrial sites drop to all-time lows. BBS is used in thousands of companies worldwide, including ExxonMobil, Estée Lauder, and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.

Industrial psychologist Jaime Hermann and colleagues showed BBS programs improved safety at a Mexican automobile plant. Compared to sister plants that did not receive the intervention, the BBS plant saw a 92% reduction in “first-time medical visits.” The BBS plant experienced a 96% drop in severity injury rate, such as lacerations, burns, broken bones and amputations. Sometimes, workers were unaware how they put themselves at risk. BBS provided social support to act more safely despite production and efficiency pressures.

Safety first also saves dollars!

Cited Research

DePasquale, J. P. & Geller, E. S. (1999). Critical success factors for behavior-based safety: A study of 20 industry-wide applications.  Journal of Safety Research, Vol. 30,  pp. 237-249.

Hermann, J.A., Ibarra, G.V., and Hopkins, B.L. (2010). A safety program that integrated behavior-based safety and traditional safety methods and its effects on injury rates of manufacturing workers. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, Vol. 30, pp. 6-25.

Improved safety culture and labor-management relations attributed to changing at-risk behavior process at Union Pacific (2009). U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration Research Results, RR09-19.

Leigh, J. P. (2011). Economic Burden of Occupational Injury and Illness in the United States. Milbank Quarterly, Vol. 89 (4), pp. 728-772.

For more details see:


American Psychological Association, February 2014

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