The Bradley Curve was developed by Dupont in 1995 to help clients understand and benchmark the journey toward world-class safety performance.
But does the logic and progression from each segment of the curve really stack up?
The Bradley Curve supposedly makes it simple for organisations to understand the shifts in mind-set and actions that need to occur over time to develop a mature safety culture.
According to the curve every organisation's fits into one of the categories and to improve, build a better safety culture and thereby reduce accidents they need to progress on a downward journey through the stages
Stage 1 - Reactive Stage
People do not take responsibility. They believe that safety is a natural instinct and more a matter of luck than management. It regards the lack of safety as a heresy, and an ideology that human beings are born corrupt!
Stage 2 - Dependent Stage
Where people are ruled by fear and discipline and controlled by supervision through the use of safe procedures, yet strangely enough value all people!
Stage 3 - Independent Stage
Having being disciplined at the dependant stage Individuals are now able to take responsibility for themselves. They can internalise things for themselves, recognise risks and start to develop new habits.
Stage 4 - Interdependent Stage
Teams of employees are each other's keepers, care for others and help them conform. People do not accept low standards and risk-taking. They actively converse with others to understand their point of view. They believe true improvement can only be achieved as a group, and that zero injuries is an attainable goal.
My thoughts are that the curve is in fact illogical and a confutation of good risk management. The belief that humans are initially corrupt and therefore need to be managed is a fallacy and supervising them through discipline and compliance to become Independent just doesn't stack up.
I strongly believe the curve should be changed to become an upward journey establishing and building on the strengths of individuals to foster a culture where people share, adapt, and build workable procedures. These will have to be closely monitored but not put people in fear of reprisal. We will need to strike a balance between compliance and worker resilience, providing clear and unambiguous guidance whilst stimulating people to try out new ideas and concepts.