Behaviours and human factors are widely recognised as having an important effect on accident causation and accident prevention. Behaviour modification is unlikely to be successful unless the job environment and organisational factors are also considered. Nevertheless, instead of examining how core work processes are affecting health and safety and working with the workforce to remedy problems, many employers have chosen to bring in behaviour-based safety programmes that focus on employees' unsafe behaviours - employees - as the problem.
Not surprisingly, employees have expressed a rather cynical view of this "problem" tag. While employers and consultants call them "behavioural safety programmes", many workers and unions in the US refer to them as employers' "blame-the-worker safety programmes", or simply by their initials: BS (Multinational Monitor, 2000). Now, more than ever behaviour and blame oriented systems are an inappropriate and ineffective approach at work. The failings of this approach are compounded by a system that concentrates on the behaviour of the individual when the behaviour of the organisation is increasingly recognised as the route of modern occupational ills including stress, overwork and conflicting pressures (NIOSH 2002).
The SAEHWS provides for an integrated approach that links workplace experiences to employee wellbeing and outcomes in order to identify risk areas that might impede on safe behaviours. In addition, whilst most safety programmes focus on the competence and health of individuals as drivers of safety, the level of work-related wellbeing individuals experience is ignored. By providing for the work-related wellbeing of individuals (i.e., the “can do” factors in terms of the level of mental, emotional, and physical energy an individual displays and the “will do” – the motivational factors individuals exhibit) as a non-competence and non-health factors of human success/failure, occupational health and safety initiatives can only benefit; especially if the reasons for these decrements are also provided. The SAEHWS quantifies these dimensions in fortification of occupational health and safety programmes.