DEKRA’s Optimus Seventh Generation launches research: How can leaders and workforces improve safety by increasing their chronic unease?

DEKRA’s Optimus Seventh Generation launches research: How can leaders and workforces improve safety by increasing their chronic unease?

Chronic unease—a state where wariness towards the management of risk is constantly present—is said to be key in maintaining a safe workplace. And still, research into chronic unease and what this actually looks like in reality is still in its infancy.

Optimus Seventh Generation, a DEKRA company, has launched research to understand the concept better, and developed a survey measuring the five components of chronic unease.

Take the survey and contribute to a greater understanding of the topic. Upon completing the survey, you will receive a summary of your personal chronic unease findings.

What is chronic unease and why is it important?

Chronic unease can be described as the opposite of complacency where a state of constant wariness towards the management of risk is present. It is about showing a healthy scepticism towards one's own decisions and towards the risks that come with working in a high hazard industry. It is also about probing deeper and fully understanding the risks of where we are working rather than assuming that systems will keep us safe. Chronic unease makes us ask "are we are doing enough"?

As researchers Dr Laura Fruhen and Professor Rhona Flin stated, "to be wary is to be ready for the unexpected". According to them the presence of chronic unease in leaders is the key to maintaining a safe working environment.

Within High Reliability Organisations (HROs), such as nuclear aircraft carriers and air traffic control, chronic unease is a common characteristic. These organisations operate within high risk situations over long periods of time. To be able to maintain the safety of their people, their plant and their equipment, HROs need to constantly evaluate the level of risk, and develop and improve ways to manage safety effectively. Chronic unease is said to be key in achieving the excellent safety record these organisations have.

The five components of chronic unease

five components of chronic unease

Fruhen and Flin have identified five components of chronic unease:

  • Experience: We cannot influence whether a person experiences a major incident. However, if they have and if this has increased their level of chronic unease, we should see differences in their behaviour and decision making where they are warier about the management of risk at work.
  • Vigilance: If a leader can identify hazards and remain vigilant to weak signals and warning signs over a prolonged period of time, they can take action to prevent these resulting in a low probability, high consequence event (a major safety incident).

The final three components of chronic unease are personality traits:

  • Pessimism is about the leader’s ability to avoid complacency and challenge unsafe working behaviours and how risk is managed.
  • Propensity (tendency) to worry represents a leader’s concern with the possibility of future danger.
  • Flexible thinking/imagination is the leader’s ability to anticipate what might go wrong.

To further explore and add to existing research about chronic unease, we invite you to take our Chronic Unease Survey. Upon receiving your completed survey, an individual report of your personal chronic unease findings will be created and provided to you.

For more information, contact us at +44 (0)1224 766 700 or send an e-mail.

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Monday, 13 July 2020