Convention NewsIn 1901, a 63-year-old teacher, Anna Edson Taylor, plunged over the raging waters of Niagara Falls in a barrel. She survived and was the first person to try the stunt, but not the last. Of the 21 people who later purposefully dared riding the falls, 16 survived and five perished.

No one argues that going over Niagara is an unsafe act, but people continue to try.


This could be a good topic of conversation at the 2014 Behavioral Safety Now (BSN) Conference, the 20th anniversary of that event to be held at the Buffalo, New York Hyatt Regency on October 7-9. Attendees and their families may want to ponder the unsafe behavior of daredevils during a tour of the falls, but the main attraction is the conference itself.

With presentations, breakout sessions, and keynote speakers renowned in the behavioral sciences, the BSN Conference includes an educational program for all levels of management, safety professionals and employee teams who have an interest in learning about the behavioral safety approach.

In 20 years this conference has grown from a small group of practitioners, researchers, and academics with a shared interest in safety to a must-attend forum for anyone interested in optimizing safety in the workplace.

The group instrumental in the eventual development of BSN included Beth Sulzer-Azaroff, at the time active with the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, Dwight Harshbarger, Bill Hopkins, Mark Alovocious, and myself. We discussed the idea of doing a workshop through the Cambridge Center that would be true to the science, and promote a variety of behavior analysts sharing different perspectives. Beth took the idea back to the Cambridge Center, and we organized several workshops, all in the Boston area.

The effort was challenging in several ways. First, marketing and promotion were difficult and outside our normal skill set, but the Center did a fair job and managed to get an audience for all of the workshops we tried to organize. Second, coordinating the presentations was problematic as each of us had a slightly different approach to our craft. We got better, but initial efforts were choppy, with poor transitions and coordination of our content. We provided a good experience for the audience, and provided a better understanding of behavior analysis applied to safety than other public offerings, but we did not generate much income for the Center. The travel costs of our diverse group of instructors ultimately meant that the workshop fizzled, and then disappeared.

Quality Safety Edge (QSE) had annual company meetings through much of the mid-nineties. During those meetings we discussed various ways to promote our services and support our clients. An agenda item in several of those meetings was the idea of having a user’s group or some sort of user’s conference. At some point we began to discuss the idea of a professional conference for those involved in behavioral safety. I approached the Cambridge Center’s Executive Director, Betsy Constantine with the idea of QSE hosting this conference on behalf of the Cambridge Center, with participation of as many other behavioral consultants as we could bring onboard. Betsy loved the idea.

We signed an agreement that outlined our responsibilities and in March of 1995 began preparing for our first BSN Conference in October of that year. Scott Geller and Aubrey Daniels agreed to participate as keynote speakers and sponsors of the conference and we are proud to say that they will also present at BSN’s 20th anniversary in Buffalo. Dave Johnson of Industrial Safety & Hygiene News agreed to cosponsor the event and provide advertising and mailing lists at the first BSN. (Dave will provide opening remarks and introductions and preside as the General Sessions Moderator at the 2014 conference.)

For the first BSN Conference, we planned (and hoped) for 150 participants. Instead, 250 people attended and stretched the conference hotel that year to its limits for meeting and luncheon space!  BSN contributed $20,000 to the Cambridge Center that first year. Since that time, BSN has continued to contribute approximately $40,000 annually in support of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. In 2014, BSN celebrates 20 years of successfully bringing information about behavior analysis and its application to promoting safety in the workplace and eliminating workplace injuries.

This year, the industry’s most innovative thinkers will once again share best practices and success stories. We’re happy to say that the BSN Conference—today the premier venuefor collecting cutting-edge ideas and strategies to improve safety, quality, customer service and productivity—is one of those success stories.

For more information about the 2014 BSN including all registration questions/issues, sponsorship of or exhibiting at the conference please call Cookie McKee, BSN Conference Coordinator, at 281-593-1987 or visit