High Reliability Organizing, Resiliency and Safety Culture
Authors: Yalda Khashe, Najm Meshkati
Abstract: Complex safety-critical technological system breakdowns could pose serious threats for workers and the surrounding communities. These organizations are inherently complex and depend on the latest technologies to survive and function properly. Failures in these systems are rare but highly visible, making the consequence of such failures disastrous. To survive, a technological system must have the ability to respond to operational anomalies before any undesirable consequences, which the system seeks to avoid, can occur. As task uncertainty increases in complex systems (typical in ‘non-normal’ or emergency situations), the number of exceptions to routine operations increases, overloading the organizational hierarchy. To meet the new challenges, the organization must use another mechanism to sustain itself. The Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 21, defines resilience as the ability to “prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions”. Without understanding the vital role of human and organizational factors in technological systems and proactively addressing/facilitating their interactions during unexpected events, recovery will be a sweet dream, and resiliency will only be an unattainable mirage. A High Reliability Organization (HRO)is a resilient organization. These Organizations are a subset of high-risk organizations designed and managed to avoid such accidents. In this paper, we study the influence of HRO characteristics on safety culture, resiliency, and the organizations' ability to respond to unforeseen events.
Keywords: Resiliency, Safety Culture, High-reliability Organizations, High-risk Organizations, Improvisation
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