THE ABCs OF BEHAVIOR
Updated: Mar 28
An Effective Model for Developing Safety Training
I recently had an interesting conversation with two employees about safety training. One employee indicated that he remembers many of the stories, pictures, and videos that focus on negative outcomes and that he thinks about those outcomes before making decisions. We then discussed the ABC model of behavior. This model focuses on antecedents, behaviors, and consequences. It is often used to analyze incidents to identify why employees act or behave in a certain manner. It is also an effective tool that can be used when developing safety training.
Antecedents prompt people to act. For example, a lightbulb on the ceiling burns out. This would prompt a person to change the light bulb.
Behavior is the action. For example, the person chooses the right light bulb and uses a chair to reach the bulb.
Consequences are influenced by the behavior. They can be either positive or negative. For example, if the employee uses the chair and successfully changes the light bulb they are rewarded for their choice and likely to engage in the same behavior in the future. If they fall off the chair or the chair breaks, they are punished for their behavior and not likely to engage in the same behavior again.
In safety, we don’t want people to learn from experiencing negative consequences such as injuries. We strive to influence behavior by encouraging employees to evaluate the consequences of their behavior. The ABCs of behavior is an important consideration when developing safety training. At Safety Made Simple, we use this model in our animated case studies. The character follows the antecedent, behavior, consequence model. Often the behavior choice leads to a negative outcome. We incorporate this to drive home the importance of pausing before taking action to consider the outcomes, such as an injury or other negative event. It is a simple model that when used properly can have a tremendous outcome on shaping employee behavior. Try it, I think you will agree.
Joe Mlynek is a partner and subject matter expert at Safety Made Simple, Inc. He has over 20 years of experience in safety at the corporate level and as a consultant. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Occupational Safety and Health Technician (OHST). Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org