New solutions to reach our goal of Target Zero

In the heavy lift and heavy haul industries, all our work contains risk, as it does in most of the industries we work with. At Barnhart, we know that performing with excellence and managing the risks of our work with excellence go hand-in-hand. To meet our goal of Target Zero, we have innovated a new paradigm to safety that provides the basis for training and operational excellence, called Risk Based Safety.

Risk Based Safety is a major shift in individual thinking about safety – in which employees manage risks instead of safety. This is in contrast to traditional Compliance Based Safety, where the focus is essentially on following rules and policies without considering the changes in risk. The compliance based approach to safety does not encourage ownership of the risks or thereby ownership of the solutions minimizing the risks in unfamiliar or changing environments. We have found that when employees are more concerned about following the rules, they often fail to assess the working environment and do not identify the true risks of the work, unintentionally leading to unsafe behaviors, practices and thinking. Risk Based Safety requires the risks to be assessed (thinking), proper actions taken to minimize the risks (mitigation), and then continuous improvement from our lessons learned (communication).


  • Empower all employees to be actively engaged in safety. It changes the focus of employees from "am I following the rules?" to "what could go wrong, and what am I going to do about it?"

  • Changes language on coaching. When employees think through the risks of their work, it changes the language that is used during coaching. For example, rather than asking "why are you not wearing gloves?" the coach would ask "what risks are you being exposed to that could harm you?" and "what should you do to minimize those risks?"

  • Impacts personal behavior. Driving home risk assessment and mitigation causes all of us to think through situations. Not only on the job, but also on personal time. Risk Based Safety does impact and change behavior. Requires all employees to manage risks and not safety. Managing safety is not productive and doesn't change behavior. It may mandate actions, but does not empower thinking. Risk Based Safety manages risk, changing behavior, and will make strong strides toward Target Zero.

  • Risk Based Safety impacts all areas of operations. From project planning, project management, execution of work down to toolbox talks and job hazard analysis, and even post work reviews, it can be boiled down to three questions that all people involved in operational tasks must ask:

    • What can go wrong?
    • What are the potential results?
    • What am I going to do about it?

Barnhart's new Risk Based Safety paradigm is already having a significant impact on the way our employees are approaching the job. Implemented through our Tactical Self-Preservation (TSP) plan, employees who proudly wear the TSP Shield understand that, while risk is unavoidable, true safety is the result of managing and mitigating those risks. Through proactive thinking, they find innovative ways to complete the job safer, better and more efficiently. The result is new heights of performance for our customers.