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Report on Safety Attitude Development Program: BHP

BHP reduced their all injury Frequency Rate (AIFR)* by 58%, absenteeism by 28%, and improved the commitment to quality and professionalism with the simple introduction of an attitude-based development program.

Report compiled by Geoffrey Needham, Superintendent, BHP Rail Operations

* AIFR is the reported injuries per million hours worked

History and Background

For many years BHP has had a strong focus on safety with excellent results. The benefits of these programs however had plateaued and the results were not improving. One of the difficult areas was Rail Operations. Rail Operations consisted of 200 employees who had an AIFR of 328, an absenteeism rate of 9.6 days per person per year and a perceived reputation of being a difficult department with which to deal.

Advanced Safety & Quality Awareness Program

BHP became aware of the Advanced Safety & Quality Awareness Program (AS&QAP) which was developed in Australia by PAQS People and Quality Solutions Pty Ltd.

The AS&QAP is divided into three parts or phases:

Phase I consists of an Accident Risk Management (ARM) questionnaire and a personal one-on-one debriefing that focuses the individual employee on their personal responsibility for and their ability to control safety in their environment.

Phase II consists of participation in a one-day training session to develop and reinforce individual responsibility into a group context of interaction and commitment on-the-job. These factors are:

Phase III consists of reassessment and further individual debriefings as a follow-up to the training day to gain permanent attitude change.

The AS&QAP was seen as unique and different to other systems and behavioural approaches to safety improvement previously implemented by BHP. VVhile very structured it was found to be highly flexible, adaptable and synergistic with all current safety and quality management systems and procedures.

Accident Risk Management Profile

The foundation of the AS&QAP was the personal Accident Risk Management questionnaire providing each individual with a profile of safety awareness and areas of personal risk.

Psychologists in the US throughout the 1980s identified three primary and two supplementary attitudinal factors that contribute to most human error accidents and injuries.

These factors are:

  • Safety Control - a measure of a person's willingness to accept personal responsibility for there own behaviour and results.
  • Risk Avoidance - a measure of a person's willingness to avoid dangerous risk taking and follow safety procedures.
  • Stress Tolerance - a measure of a person's ability to handle and cope effectively with stress.
  • Driver Attitude - a measure of a persons: care, courteousness and commitment to safe and professional driving of all motor vehicles.
  • Quality Orientation - a measure of a person's willingness and ability to take personal responsibility for their performance.
Research in Australia, New Zealand and the US, across many industries, had overwhelmingly demonstrated the ability of the ARM questionnaire to identify the 113 of the population responsible for, on average, 75% of accidents and 85% of lost-time due to injuries.

The ARM profile had proven itself as an essential tool in the area of recruitment, particularly for safety sensitive positions.

However, its primary value was viewed by its advocates as its ability to identify the specific factors (beliefs) underlying unsafe behavior that could be targeted and trained, thus the development of the AS&QAP.

Testing Arm

While there were some reservations about whether attitude could be changed, BHP decided to trial the AS&QAP utilising stringent research controls.

As a first stage, to test the ARM questionnaires ability to identify the attitudinal factors contributing to injuries, a study was conducted where 100 employees completed the questionnaire.

Results were then correlated with the previous 12 months injury data for those employees.

The ARM Safety INdex Scale vs. AIFR

Those employees whom the questionnaire identified as higher risk had an average AIFR of 340 as compared with the lower risk group who had an average AIFR of 150.

As demonstrated in Graph 1 below, the ARM questionnaire was very effective at identifying higher and lower risk employees based on actual injuries over the previous 12 months. The ARMs ability to identify the attitudinal factors contributing to accidents was convincing.

Testing AS&QA

The next test was to determine if the AS&QA training program would have the ability to change and sustain employees attitudes as measured both in terms of ARM questionnaire results over 3, 6 and 9 month periods and beyond, and in actual reduction of the All Injury Frequency Rates.


A 20% increase in attitudinal safety awareness was the targeted objective. A change of this magnitude would lift most personnel out of the highest risk one-third of the population where 75% of accidents and 85% of lost time injuries occur. The Department's 200 employees were divided into 3 groups:

Training Group: 50 employees completed the entire program.

Control Group 1: 50 employees completed the ARM questionnaire only at commencement and the nine month stage.

Control Group 2: The remaining 100 employees had their AIFR tracked and compared.


Results were impressive. The AS&QAP demonstrated across all measured factors its ability to improve safety awareness and to focus individuals on their personal responsibility for accident and injury prevention.

While the Control Groups showed no significant changes the Training Group, as indicated in the following graphics, demonstrates:

  • Dramatic increases in Safety Awareness (See graph 2)
  • Substantially reduced AIFR (See graph 3)
  • Improved reporting of incidents (See graph 4)
  • Lower absenteeism (See graph 5)

ARM Scores

The results in Graph 2 indicate that Control Group 1 had not, within significant statistical limits, changed attitudes between the first and second administrations of the ARM questionnaire.

The Training Group however had improved between each of the questionnaire administrations with improvement of between 29% to 98% across the scales (40% improvement on an overall safety awareness measure).

Note: Practice effect and/or intentional distortion is controlled for within the ARM profile as an internal integrity measure of candidness. No significant practice effect was indicated.

Safety Awareness Improvement
ARM Survey Scale

Injury Results

Graph 3 shows the improvement in AIFR for the 12 month period prior to and following commencement of the program comparing the Training and Control Group 2.

This 58% reduction in injuries is an outstanding result and is reflective of the sustained improvements in safety attitudes and awareness.

UPDATE: Eighteen months past the initial AS&QAP training a reduction of greater than 50% AIFR to pre-training levels has been sustained.

FOOTNOTE: The Control Groups from this study have now been involved in the training and are reporting similar results.

The ARM profile has also been introduced across many departments of BHP in support of recruitment of new personnel.


Training Group vs Control Group: 6-Month Rolling Average

Safety Awareness Improvment

Incident Results

Graph 4 indicates the number of actual incidents and the number of potential incidents that occurred during the twelve-month period. Results indicate a doubling of the reporting of potential incidents while the number of actual incidents has reduced. Supervisors believe this is reflective of the overall improvement in quality attitudes.

Training Group vs Control Group

Safety Awareness Improvment


Absenteeism Results

Graph 5 shows the days absent per person per year for the Training and Control Groups 12 months prior to and following the study. A 28% improvement in the absentee rate was gained with the Training Group without any significant change indicated for the Control Groups. We believe these results show that the AS&QAP has provided a refocused commitment for employees to accept more responsibility for their work and improved work satisfaction.



Results and benefits appear compelling. Clearly the ARM profile was able to identify human error factors that contribute to accidents. The AS&QAP training across our four key performance indicators demonstrated the sustainable change and development of individual safety awareness and its benefits. Certainly, addressing human factors is a vital step in safety management. While systems provide the structure for a safe and injury free workplace, it is the human factors that will determine its success or failure. Even good systems and skills training will fail if there is a lack of compliance or commitment from the people the system or training is designed to support. The AS&QAP has proven its ability to develop the safety attitudes and behaviours of its participants toward compliance and commitment, ensuring a focused safety culture. BHP Rail Operations is now training the remainder of their personnel. BHP Transport and BHP Oil & Gas Pipe have initiated their own AS&QAP training while BHP Slab and Plate and other divisions are now planning similar programs.

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