Safety culture maturity

Cultural maturity

The concept of maturity was originally developed by the Software Engineering Institute in their capability maturity model as a means of improving the way in which software is built and maintained.  This identified a series of 5 levels – Initial, Repeatable, Defined, Managed, Optimising – to assist organisations gauge the effectiveness of their software engineering practices and identify where improvements were needed.

Subsequently the model has been adapted for use in other domains and to address issues such as project management, human resources, usability and quality as it was found to be a useful tool enabling organisations to identify the actions required to improve performance.  The maturity model concept has also found to be appropriate to safety culture development within the offshore oil and gas industry (ie. Safety Maturity Model developed by DuPont).

Following a review of maturity models used in other industries, the Safety Culture Maturity Model ® was developed by The Keil Centre (see HSE (2000/049)). The model sets out a series of 5 iterative levels of safety culture development.  These were based on interviews and discussions with senior managers and frontline staff from an organisation recognised as best in class in terms of safety performance.

Organisations progress sequentially through the 5 levels, by building on the strengths and removing the weaknesses of the previous level.  It is not advisable for an organisation to attempt to jump or skip a level.  For example, it is important organisations go through the ‘managing’ level before the ‘involving’ level as it is important managers develop their commitment to safety and understand the need to involve frontline staff.

In RSSB’s Safety culture assessment toolkit, an organisation’s overall level of maturity is determined on the basis of their maturity on each of the following 11 key safety culture components:

  • Management commitment
  • Communications
  • Training
  • Organisational learning
  • Barriers and influences
  • Employee participation
  • Organisational commitment
  • Risk taking behaviours
  • Workmates influence
  • Supervisor’s role
  • Personal role