Risk and safety permeate humanity’s experiences and perceptions through many channels, including legislation, policies and governance, communication, and cultural-, group- and self-censored pragmatics. The Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing’s (WOW) Associate Professor Ian Glendon, with colleague, Professor Sharon Clarke (University of Manchester, UK), recently published the third edition of their well-cited book, Human Safety and Risk Management: A Psychological Perspective (2016, Taylor & Francis):
“Our aim in this third edition is to reflect current scientific research across a range of disciplines as it applies to human safety and risk management…as an adjunct to the increased availability of scientific literature and applied studies [since the first edition].”
“Our current philosophy includes recognising the increased globalisation of knowledge and its impact,…a focus on the positive and negative aspects of risk…and expanding explanations of safety and risk that incorporate multiple levels [such as]…the neural, social, organisational, and wider community or political influences.”
And it is here that concern for workers, and the workplace, enters.
With six chapters dedicated to the safety and risk issues of increasingly complex governmental and commercial organisational structures and their influence on human behaviour, Ian (pictured left) and Sharon have taken time to acknowledge the impact of this changing nature of work on people’s lives too:
“…greater flexibility is required in nearly all jobs and professions. …As the interfaces between work, domestic and social lives become increasingly blurred…managing employees’ safety and health beyond the workplace is a challenge that many organisations have yet to address.”
Such examples as the stress arising from domestic factors being brought into the workplace, the long-term effects of shift-work on a worker’s health and family life, the generic nature of ill-health from lifestyle choices, are among multiple issues that employers are starting to recognise as pertinent to the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the organisations they manage.
Overall, the book sees a continuing return to three key themes: the nervous system as it underlies behaviours around risk and safety (and the cognition and emotions associated with them), humans’ evolutionary history and its relation to all aspects of behaviour, and the increasing need to organise communities, which are growing larger – and in particular, workplaces – as the nature of risks is rapidly becoming more globalised, diversified, and interconnected.
Concludes Associate Professor Glendon in the book’s Introduction:
“The biggest risk, for individuals and organisations [however], is sometimes to take no risks at all.”