Assessing the safety maturity of your organization (or how to get over puberty)

This post first appeared on Medium.

In our quest for a safer workplace we frequently run into organizations who are reluctant to undergo an honest assessment of their own “safety culture”. At Safety Changer we believe that culture is essential to a safe environment.

In psychology, maturity is the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. This response is generally learned rather than instinctive. A mature safety culture creates the emotional/physical and functional space to be able to reflect and act on safety issues.

Looking at reasons why organizations are not willing to assess their situation we encounter the typical psychological symptoms of immaturity and some more fierce symptoms often associated with puberty like:

  • We do not need an assessment, everything is fine (denial)
  • But, what if we discover something (fear)
  • Sorry, we do not have the time, energy, resources (excuses)
  • First we need to, then we can maybe, difficulties with signing up to long-term commitments (pleasure principle)
  • It would not make a difference (depression)
  • What if we’re worse than “they”, groups, sites or competitors (insecurity)

It is evident that the senior management and team leaders are essential in developing a mature environment where questions can be raised and the safety situation can be assessed in all honesty.

If you recognize your organization in the above it might be helpful to seek help from an external consultant who can guide your organization through the process of assessing your own safety maturity.

If you feel your organization is still in “puberty” take a minute to reflect on the crazy stuff you did (and miraculously survived) and make sure you take action as soon as possible. In these cases common sense is suddenly not so common anymore and you need a drastic change in culture.

Extended reading:

AICHE: “Safety culture, what is at stake?

Next, “What elements constitute a safety culture?

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