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Safety Culture Maturity - Where Are You on the Curve?

Updated: Mar 18

Most of us are very familiar with the term “Safety Culture”. We all know how important it is for an organisation to have a strong culture of safety underlines all its business processes. A model called the DuPont Bradley Curve has become a popular way of thinking about safety culture development. This model identifies four stages of safety culture maturity: Reactive, Dependent, Independent and Interdependent. The model also denotes that incident rate has a negative correlation with safety culture maturity level. Hence, the holy grail of having a state of zero injuries is only attainable if the organisation has a well-developed and mature safety culture.

Reactive Stage – People don’t take responsibility and believe accidents will happen.

Employees have minimal sense of ownership to make their work and workplace safe(r). They believe that accidents will happen, and because of this, often times accidents do end up happening. Especially because no one cares enough to take the necessary steps to prevent them. Things are very reactive at this stage. Employees tend to rely on their natural instincts for safety and they look out for only themselves. This is where quality and performance are at the lowest and incidents are at the highest.

Dependent Stage – People view safety as following rules.

As you move to the right along the curve, you’ll see the next stage is to move from reactive to more of a dependent cultural state. There is more management commitment, rules, training and awareness at this stage. However, the main motivation for safety comes mainly from supervisors and managers, and not internally from the workers themselves.

Independent Stage – People take responsibility and believe their actions make a difference.

This section is interesting because it marks the shift in employee thinking and business culture. Employees are shifting their mindset from needing to be supervised to taking ownership of their safety, and accepting responsibility. Employees become “Independent” because they see values in following safe work practices.

Interdependent Stage – Teams feel ownership and responsibility for the company’s safety culture. This is the ideal stage where employees recognise that they need each other - I need you and you need me, your safe work affects me and mine affects you. The workplace is like a well oiled machine that moves together. Everyone watches out for each other so everyone is safe. In this stage, safety is sustainable and injury rates fall, approaching zero. People feel empowered to act as needed to work safely. They support and challenge each other. Decisions are made at the appropriate level and people live by those decisions. The organisation realises significant business benefits through higher quality, greater productivity and increased profits. It is the ideal stage, a utopia, of how an organisation should function.

Where do you think you are in the curve and how are you planning to get to the next stage?

Let us know in the comment section what you think of this model.

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