2002 European BBS User Conference
The third annual European Behavioural Safety User-Conference was held in Manchester, England on the 4th of April and was attended by 61 organisations from UK and Europe. Hosted and facilitated by Ryder-Marsh Safety it was sponsored by Link Associates and preceded by a primer workshop where the basic principles of behavioural safety were covered and the latest controversies and developments summarised.

The event itself comprised 10 short presentations from a carefully selected cross-section of users of all the major UK providers of behavioural safety. All speakers were asked to address the same topic - 'problems we've had and lessons we've learnt'. As in previous conferences, this 'warts and all' learning approach was very well received. (See quotes). Speakers represented clients of all the major providers of behavioural safety and included Kerr McGee North Sea, Pilkington, Scottish Water and Shell Expro. In the afternoon a series of audience selected workshops allowed more focused exchange of experiences and learning.

Topics covered on the day included 'keeping it fresh after years of success', 'peripatetic workers' and 'how to include sub-contractors'. As in previous years a remarkable number of details were exchanged and site visits arranged. (One interesting spin-off was that Dr Andrew Weyman of the HSE was able to generate 20 volunteer companies for a large piece of stress related research).

Wayne Rose of Chep UK, now many years into a programme of continuous improvement (see Chep Case Study)
The Conference Centre in Manchester hosted delegates from 61 organisations from the UK and Europe
HSE's Andy Weyman generating 20 volunteer companies for some stress research!

There was widespread agreement about the major learning points. There was general agreement that:

. A clear strategy is required if front line supervision is to facilitate and support a process effectively. (Lack of senior management commitment to introducing a process is most often critical here).

. Awareness raising is an important element of the process - but is most important at launch and can only get a company so far.

. In behavioural terms there is no such thing as too much feedback. (Not just in terms of results but also through praising people who are contributing and publicising site changes that have occurred as a result of the process in question).

. That root cause analysis is key if weaknesses in the safety systems - and temptations to take quick and convenient short cuts - are to be identified and designed out. As ever, this basic principle of safety is found to be vital to sustainable long term, continuous success. It was further suggested that top-down programmes can be weak on root-cause analysis if care is not taken to continually question existing systems and procedures. Further, that an approach that is perceived as at all confrontational or patronising can hinder learning as it can make the recipient defensive and wary.

. That developing genuine ownership in a process at the shop floor level allows you to achieve a profound culture change relatively quickly. However, this requires giving up elements of control of the process and - necessarily - a high degree of in-house time. Certain companies find these very difficult - even highly profitable ones. (It was notable that the presentations from companies whose approach sought ownership were from shop floor personnel. All others were from management).

. That good quality data is vital in directing and managing the process. Whilst any credible looking data may generate the benefits of 'what gets measured gets done' only good quality data allows the benefits of 'if we can measure it we can manage it'. Naturally, collecting good quality data isn't easy - especially since the best data is collected by peer-to-peer observations. For example, unless there is both systematic sampling and systematic item coverage most 'observations' will take place when the site is quiet and will be about 'obvious' items such as PPE that the observer is comfortable talking about. Finally it is worth noting that nearly all speakers used the phrase 'one size does not fit all' and stressed the importance of tailoring a basic process to best fit the site or even department in question. To quote one speaker who very much summed it all up: "You get out of it what you put in and you need a flexible, intelligent, long-term strategy to start with" (Gus Davison, Scottish Water).

Some further information on client sites who presented at the Conference
Kerr McGee's Murchison Oil Platform
The construction and commissioning of the Global Producer III mobile oil platform
2002 Conference Papers

These talks have been transcribed as accurately as possible. and we have tried to leave them in the words of the speaker rather than try to second guess what was meant by someone who seemed to have stumbled over their words a little. (Obvious examples of getting a little tongue tied were edited of course). This was a simple task as the standard of talks was exceptional this year.  I hope they compliment and remind you of the notes and observations you may have made on the day itself ­ and help facilitate the exchange of learning that the event is all about. We must again very gratefully thank all the speakers for their contributions ­ and for again sharing their hard work and experience for the benefit of others".

Best regards,

Tim Marsh - Conference Chair 

Don Harrison. BASF
"Training to suit" Don talked about an unsuccessful launch, the lessons learned and a successful re-launch. It focuses on the importance of greater integration of a Behavioural process with existing systems. (Download PDF

Peter Warmsley. Shotton Paper
"Tailoring to Suit" Peter talked about the importance of tailoring an approach to suit a specific situation and the importance of management commitment. (Download PDF)

Nick Wharton & Steve Collishaw. Imperial Home Décor
"Doing It In-House". Nick and Steve discussed the benefits and pitfalls of running a process "in-house" ­ with just a little help from a friend. (Download PDF)

Tony Quantrill . Kerr McGee (Global Producer Mobile Platform)
"Setting Up From Scratch". Tony talked about starting a process when the mobile platform was still being built and continuing it through commissioning. (Download PDF)

Martin Newall. Aventis Cropscience
"Building on a successful trial in one department and other experiences". Martin talked about the difficulties of rolling out to the rest of site after running a successful trial. (Download PDF)