Safety Culture is like Software, and a good safety culture is required, for any Safety management system (Hardware) to perform well. The fact that Bharat (India) being an ancient civilisation and surviving as a civilisation over the millennia, is sufficient to show that safety culture was and is an integral part of our way of life .

Modern invasive technology may be one of the reasons for the disasters and accidents that we see here in India, however once the leader and the employee are able to connect to our own roots in safety, the age-old concept of Dharma, things can begin to change and shift the paradigm.

Safety garden culture is a concept that intends to bring about a Paradigm shift in safety culture especially keeping India in view. Culture is more of a live and living organism rather than an inanimate object , hence the Comparison of culture and its stages of growth to that of the life cycle of a tree.

The stages of cultural maturity in Safety Garden Concept are:-

  • Seed
  • Sprout
  • Sapling
  • Tree
  • Fruit yielding Tree

Seed Stage of cultural maturity signifies that Safety Culture is at a nascent stage, in other words emerging / yet to emerge stage. The safety garden concept allows for the Organizations cultural aspects to be viewed in parts such as a particular division or unit or business entity/ organization itself. One would naturally require a structured cultural survey prior to deciding. The seed stage is characterized by “No one is aware about safety” & “No one cares for safety”. The Culture in this stage is reactionary in nature, that is organization / division / unit begins to think about safety only after accidents happen. There is no concept of reporting of incidents or having a policy or program. A major indicator of this stage of safety maturity is the lack of / inadequate welfare facilities like drinking water, toilets, etc. In the Indian sense this is called the stage of Adharma or the stage where the organization / division / unit lacks dharma loose translated into English language as lack of moral values.

Sprout Stage of cultural maturity signifies the first step, the unit takes toward recognition of importance of safety and understanding the moral, legal and financial impact of lack of safety. This stage is characterized by the existence of policy and program. However their implementation is not up to the mark. Welfare facilities are available but they are insufficient and poorly maintained. Their approach to safety is still reactionary largely and though there is some reporting of accidents, Near Miss reporting is yet to be established. Safety implementation happens in fits and starts mostly as a show piece or for namesake. This stage can be likened to the Indian concept of dharma likened to a Cow standing on only one leg.

Sapling Stage of cultural maturity signifies the second and foundational step in achieving safety cultural maturity. This stage is characterized by adherence to regulations which are there but with minimum requirements. In this stage the Leadership or Management asks -“Show me where it is written and I will spare the resources to comply“. In this stage though the regulation and procedures are complied with, accidents still happen. That is safety as a value is only evident on paper and has not moved into the hearts and minds of the leaders and the workforce. Another characteristic is welfare facilities may be good and well maintained but only to the level required by regulation and have not reached the first-class level. There is Near Miss reporting and not all reported near misses are investigated. This stage can be likened to the Indian concept of dharma likened to a Cow standing on only two legs.

Tree Stage signifies the third and the most critical step in the journey towards Safety Culture Maturity. This stage is characterized by the presence of a Safety Management System in place over and above compliance however Near Miss reporting & Investigation is in place and accidents are rare. In this stage the leadership completely understands the moral, legal and financial impact of safety and actively work towards the establishment of frameworks and structures that lend themselves to continual improvement in safety performance. In this stage the leadership is actively consulting with the workforce and the workforce actively participate in safety performance improvement. However the leadership is still fixated with the metrics and yet to move on to the stage of safety culture mindset. This stage can be likened to the Indian concept of dharma likened to a Cow standing on only three legs.

Fruit yielding Tree Stage signifies the achievement stage for safety cultural maturity. In this stage, Safety Culture has found its roots and is now beginning to yield the fruits of success through better safety performance that is achieving “ZERO” harm to people, assets and the environment. This is the stage where safety has won the hearts and the minds of both the leadership as well as the workforce. This stage is characterized by safety Innovation and continual improvement. This is the stage where the organization has bridged the gap between compliance and culture, between paper and people and the attention has moved on from metrics to mindsets. This stage can be likened to the Indian concept of dharma likened to a Cow standing on all four legs.

This Safety Garden concept when adopted can be of great value in the Indian context. It can be a good tool to help with the cultural transformation of Indian organizations because it allows for assessing the organization’s cultural level division wise and grade accordingly. The cultural level of each division or part of the business entity gives us a closer picture of the safety cultural status. So like many trees and shrubs and other embellishments that constitute a Garden, where each plant or a group of shrubs needs a specific set of inputs in order to flower or be fruitful. Different divisions in an organization may be at different stages of cultural maturity and require division specific improvements to achieve cultural maturity.

If all our organization begin to work on the safety garden concept coupled with suitable measures to improve culture at divisional level can be highly effective in achieving the overall safety maturity goal. This is how the concept of Safety Garden can bring about a paradigm shift in the safety cultural maturity for Indian organizations. Let’s all put our hands together in influencing the hearts and minds of both the leader and those who they lead across our country and our Industrial organizations and see the cultural transformation we all want.