Model of behavior
If we want to influence behavior, the first question is how behavior is generated. Most of us are familiar with the nature-nurture discussion, but do these two really explain the origin of behavior?
Brain Based Safety claims that behavior can only be explained by the interaction of these two elements when they are combined with a third one: the circumstances. Safe behavior is:
- based on our nature, our roots (inheritance based on our DNA, expressed in the structure of our brain; the ability to sense fear and anticipate dangers),
- developed via our nurturing (our learning history that makes us sensitive to present dangers) and
- activated via interaction with the circumstances (e.g. pressure or model behavior of team members)
Behavior is dynamic
Behavior is not a result of a trait but of a dynamic interaction. Even people of whom we expect safe behavior, can express very unsafe behavior if circumstances force them to do so. We can be tempted to trespass a safety boundary if we experience external pressure like team or management pressure.
The role of the employer
We have to realize that we can never think in terms of safe employees, but that we can always think about how to influence circumstances so that we enhance safe behavior. An employer has only a minimal influence on our nature, although he can choose those employees who best fit within a safety profile. The employer has more influence on the nurture by training employees again and again in a certain direction. Finally, the employer has a big influence on the work environment, especially on the structure of the task, the pressure on results and the establishment of a safety culture.