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DnA for Safety – A Catalyst to Accelerate Transformation

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In the 1970s safety professionals believed that influencing the behaviour of employees would result in profound changes in work safety. It was thought that behavioural patterns determined people’s thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and values. Today, cognitive psychology has taught us that the way we think and make decisions drives how we behave. The DuPont Integrated Approach (DnA) for Safety takes into account how and why people make decisions. It accounts for motivational factors, which are both intrinsic and extrinsic, and addresses the means by which high-risk habits are formed, and broken. The innovation of DnA lies in combining psychology, behavioural safety and an understanding of the social norms that govern us to improve work safety to new levels.

In the past two years, DuPont Sustainable Solutions has been implementing this new learning approach at DuPont sites with excellent results. The programme, which uses coaching to accompany individuals, managers and corporations through cultural change, is also available to external companies looking for more than the traditional safety management tools. Ten companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as DuPont itself, have already decided to work with this approach and have made significant progress in transforming their safety performance.

The Bradley Curve

Behavior-based safety programs vs DnA

What is DnA?

DnA stands for DuPont Integrated Approach for Safety and is an enhanced, holistic approach – one that positions safety as an intrinsic value and involves every individual in an organisation.

Traditionally, companies followed the safety journey described by the Bradley Curve – a cultural change model. Using this curve, safety specialists track the evolution of employees from a reactive safety culture (the first stage of the curve during which companies only target compliance to safety rules set by institutional authorities, managers are not involved in implementation of the safety culture and safety is only a matter of natural instincts) to an Interdependent stage of safety (the final stage of the curve, in which employees and employers care for each other’s safety, safety is a reason for organisational pride and people help others to conform to this state of mind and way of working). This model is a very effective way of tracking a company’s shift to operational safety and is a good reflection of cultural change.

Nevertheless, the model has two limitations. The first is the comforting sense of achievement organisations have once they have achieved the move from the dependent stage to the independent stage. However, safety should be a continuous goal. It is not a destination that is reached and then requires no further effort. Commitment to it needs to be renewed, reinvigorated and reinforced consistently over time. How can that be done in a way that remains innovative and prevents employees from becoming bored with an often repeated message?


The second limitation of the Bradley model is that the journey of a whole company does not automatically match the journey of individuals within that organisation. Do employees comply with a given behaviour because they fear the consequences of not complying, or because they expect recognition? Will employees continue to behave in a safe way when nobody is watching? How safely do they behave when they are not in a work environment?

The DuPont Integrated Approach addresses these limitations by tackling the following questions: why do people do what they do? What are their beliefs? As a result, the programme works at several levels to transform organisations from one that has employees who are simply compliant with safety to one with employees who are committed to safety, thus matching the employees’ personal safety journey with that of the organisation.

The essential pieces of the puzzle

The new DnA approach uses a practical model of human behaviour that considers how the brain processes information, how we think and what we believe, as well as influential external factors such as the work environment and social climates. To learn more about the three pillars of DnA (its philosophy, methodology and offerings), watch the video interview with Rod Gutierrez, DuPont Sustainable Solutions’ principal psychologist.

DnA for Safety enables companies to build a more effective, tailored change programme, based on the specific needs of their business and personnel, using a more holistic understanding of what drives human behaviours.

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