Maturity is measured in levels that indicate how capable -and thus mature- an organization is. Maturity levels in shipping are depicted in maturity models that describe companies’ attitudes regarding safety and behaviors at each increasing level. During the assessment procedure, organizations are able to understand their maturity level by the time they define their own attitudes and behaviors towards safety issues, and afterwards they will proceed accordingly in order to improve their performance. Safety maturity refers to the maturity of companies’ human resources related to safety and there has nothing to do with technical issues.
Organizations use several maturity models, however two of them, the one developed by the Keil Center and the other by Hudson, are often used. Other models such as DuPont’s Bradley Curve or the UK’s Maritime and coastguard Agency (the Human Element Assessment Tool – HEAT) are also used by shipping organizations as a method measuring their safety performance.
The Hudson Model
The Fleming – Keil Centre Model
- Level One – Emerging: Focus on technical solutions but safety is not perceived as the major business risk. Safety concerns only the Safety department, while staff is not familiarized with safety issues.
- Level Two – Managing: The organization understands that unsafe decisions lead to accidents and focus on the prevention of serious accidents to be occurred. Mistakes are punished but accidents do not decrease.
- Level Three – Involving: Involvement of employees for safety improvement and the accident rate is lower. Emphasize on personal responsibility and monitoring of safety performance.
- Level Four – Cooperating: All staff understands the importance of safety and everyone is engaged to promote safety. Organization tries to prevent accidents with proactive measures.
- Level Five – Continually Improving: Not essential accidents are occurred as safety is a major value of the organization which continually monitors its performance while the staff understands that health and safety is a critical aspect of well-being.
Overall, safety plays a major role in the overall performance of every organization. The aforesaid maturity models may help organizations to improve their safety performance by understanding where they stand and what efforts should be done in order to achieve a decrease in the rate of accidents. However, some critics approach the procedure more skeptical, questioning either this tool is effective or is just a management fad. In this regard, shipping organizations, seeking to improve every process and applying a continuous improvement mindset, are challenged to find the appropriate business tools that could help them enhance their safety performance.