Chronic Unease — The Missing Ingredient in Safety Leadership | AIChE

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Chronic Unease — The Missing Ingredient in Safety Leadership


To achieve a robust safety culture, a sense of chronic unease within an organization’s management can help develop a healthy preoccupation with failure in near misses, risk assessments, and audits.

Truly effective safety leaders don’t just believe what they see, what they hear, or what the statistics tell them — they continually reset their risk tolerance and question whether they are doing enough. Organizational culture affects safety culture, and successful organizations in high-risk industries manage unexpected events using principles of high reliability organizations (HROs).

This article addresses whether safety leaders are as “uneasy” as they should be, and how they should manage the chronic unease that is a very real part of their role as a leader. Several case studies are explored to look at how organizational culture and chronic unease can lead to successful outcomes. The article also examines the qualities of an HRO and how chronic unease — or a preoccupation with failure — is an important principle that helps an organization advance to the next level of safety culture...

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