Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Ron Van Houten

Second Advisor

Dr. Peter Dams

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard Malott

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Heather McGee


Safety, injuries, observation, supervisor, accuracy, safety performance


Behavior Based Safety (BBS) applies various types of safety observation to improve occupational safety in business. The purpose of the following study was to examine and compare different observation foci: peer-observation, self-observation and a combination of both options as well as supervisor observations and observations of employee behavior obtained by research assistants (RA). Participants were unionized employees of the facilities management department at a Midwestern university. Target behaviors included safe lifting and vacuuming. The dependent variables were safety performance and the discrepancy between the different observation types. Incident data were also reported. The different observational methods were investigated via a counterbalanced group design. The results show that (a) regardless of checklist type, the best conditions for improvement were the first condition after baseline and the supervisor intervention. (b) That participants and supervisors over-reported their safety performance in comparison to observations by RAs. (c) That the BBS process was associated with decreases in incidents and modest safety improvements. (d) That no significant relationship existed between discrepancy, improvement and participation. Implications of these findings on the importance of accuracy, training and culture are discussed in relationship to the behavior change measured by RAs. The importance of observations in comparison with other hypothesized variables, such as employee buy-in, are also discussed in comparison with current findings and available research.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access