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The Bridge Safety Model Case Study

Case Study: Forklift Accident in a Warehouse

Background: ABC Logistics operates a large warehouse where various goods are stored and distributed. The company has traditionally relied on Behavioral-Based Safety (BBS) to manage workplace safety, focusing primarily on individual behaviors and adherence to safety rules.

Incident Description: Location: Warehouse loading dock Time: 2:00 PM Weather: Clear and dry

Mike, a 30-year-old forklift operator with five years of experience, was moving a pallet of boxes from the loading dock to the storage area. Despite being reminded frequently to adhere to speed limits and follow marked pathways, Mike decided to take a shortcut to save time. This shortcut involved driving the forklift through a narrow space between two shelving units. As he maneuvered through the space, he lost control of the forklift, which tipped over and pinned his leg underneath.

Immediate Response:

  • First Aid: Co-workers quickly called for help, and the on-site first aid team provided initial care. Mike was in severe pain with visible injuries to his leg.

  • Emergency Services: An ambulance arrived and transported Mike to the nearest hospital.

Injuries Sustained:

  • Leg Injury: A compound fracture of the right leg requiring surgery and extensive rehabilitation.

  • Minor Injuries: Bruises and abrasions on his arms and torso.

Analysis of Different Safety Models:

Behavioral-Based Safety (BBS) Approach

Investigation and Response:

  1. Focus on Behavior: The investigation would focus on Mike's decision to take a shortcut and his failure to adhere to the speed limits and marked pathways.

  2. Training and Reminders: The response would likely involve retraining Mike and other forklift operators on the importance of following safety rules and avoiding shortcuts.

  3. Behavioral Reinforcement: Increased observation and feedback sessions would be conducted to reinforce safe behaviors.


  1. Short-term Fix: While this approach addresses Mike's behavior, it does not consider underlying systemic issues that may have contributed to his decision.

  2. Limited Change: The emphasis on individual behavior may lead to temporary compliance, but systemic issues remain unaddressed, potentially leading to similar incidents in the future.

Human Organizational Performance (HOP) Approach

Investigation and Response:

  1. Focus on Systems: The investigation would focus on understanding why Mike felt the need to take a shortcut and what systemic factors contributed to the incident.

  2. Systems Analysis: Identify factors such as workload, time pressures, and the layout of the warehouse that may have influenced Mike's decision.

  3. Systemic Changes: Implement changes to the workflow, such as redesigning the warehouse layout to minimize the need for shortcuts and adjusting schedules to reduce time pressure.


  1. Systemic Improvement: By addressing the systemic factors, the HOP approach leads to more sustainable improvements in safety.

  2. Holistic Change: This approach creates a safer environment by considering the broader context of human behavior.

The Bridge Safety Model Using OSHA’s Seven Core Elements

Investigation and Response:

Combining BBS and HOP:

  • Management Leadership: Management demonstrates commitment to safety by actively participating in the investigation and implementing necessary changes.

  • Worker Participation: Involve Mike and other forklift operators in discussions about the incident and potential solutions.

  • Hazard Identification and Assessment: Conduct a thorough assessment of the warehouse layout, workflows, and the pressures that may have led to the incident.

  • Hazard Prevention and Control: Redesign the warehouse layout to eliminate narrow spaces and establish clear, safe pathways for forklift operation.

  • Education and Training: Provide comprehensive training that not only emphasizes safe behaviors but also educates workers on the systemic factors that influence safety.

  • Program Evaluation and Improvement: Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the new layout and workflow changes, using feedback from workers to drive continuous improvement.

  • Communication and Coordination: Ensure clear communication of the new safety protocols and coordinate with all relevant parties, including contractors and suppliers, to maintain a safe environment.


  1. Integrated Approach: The Bridge Safety Model addresses both individual behaviors and systemic factors, creating a comprehensive and robust safety framework.

  2. Sustainable Safety Improvements: By combining the strengths of BBS and HOP within OSHA’s Seven Core Elements, this approach leads to more sustainable safety improvements and fosters a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

  3. Worker Engagement: Engaging workers in the process ensures their buy-in and enhances the overall safety culture.

Comparison of Outcomes

  • BBS Standalone: Focuses on individual behavior, leading to short-term compliance but not addressing systemic issues. The result is limited long-term safety improvement.

  • HOP Standalone: Focuses on systemic factors, leading to sustainable safety improvements by addressing the broader context of human behavior. However, it may overlook the need for reinforcing safe individual behaviors.

  • The Bridge Safety Model: Combines the strengths of both BBS and HOP, addressing individual behaviors and systemic factors simultaneously. This integrated approach, supported by OSHA’s Seven Core Elements, leads to comprehensive and sustainable safety improvements, fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

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