Collective Mindfulness as a Preventive Strategy Against Workplace Incidents: A Comparative Study of Australia and the United States

  • Andrew EnyaEmail author
  • Manikam Pillay
  • Shane Dempsey
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 969)


The workplace has become a second home to many workers as they spend most of the day working in their various work environment while performing their job roles. It is therefore imperative as a duty of care for employers to ensure they provide a safe workplace for both employees and visitors. In the quest to provide safer working conditions, organizations have continually sort for strategies and successful models from other industries which they can emulate. This has led many organizations to study High Reliability Organizations as an incident prevention strategy. High reliability organizations (HROs) which include air traffic control, nuclear power generation stations and US Navy air carriers, are known to perform their operations in an uncertain and hazardous environment filled with the possibility of failing, and even when they fail they are able to recover quickly. HROs are known to perform nearly incident-free, with high safety and production performance. Research has shown that HROs are able to perform exceptionally well because of their cognitive mindset and collective mindfulness. Collective mindfulness is made up of five aspects present in all HRO which are; preoccupation with failure, reluctance to simplify, sensitivity to operations, commitment to resilience, and deference to expertise. This paper compares workplace incidents in Australia and the United States, using 2016–2018, incident data, extracted from WorkSafe Victoria, SafeWork New South Wales, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, WorkSafe Western Australia, and the United States Department of Labour, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration websites. We identify falls and being struck by moving object or equipment as the leading cause of workplace accidents, while lack of supervision, non-compliance, training, and the absence of appropriate safety procedures were identified as contributing factors to most workplace accidents. The paper further proposes CM as an incident prevention strategy that can be integrated into organizational safety management systems to mitigate accidents and provide safer working environment.


High Reliability Organization Construction safety Reliability 



The authors acknowledge funding provided by The University of Newcastle Australia [International Postgraduate Scholarship (UNIPRS) and University of Newcastle Research Scholarship Central 50:50 (UNRSC5050) scheme] for the first author.


  1. 1.
    ILO. Safety and Health at Work (2018).–en/index.htm. Accessed 7 Jan 2019
  2. 2.
    SWA. WHS compliance, injury reporting, licensing and compensation claims (2018). Accessed 7 Jan 2019
  3. 3.
    BLS. Injuries, illnesses, and fatalities (2018). Accessed 7 Jan 2019
  4. 4.
    Reason, J.: Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents. Routledge, London (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Goh, Y.M., Ubeynarayana, C.U.: Construction accident narrative classification: an evaluation of text mining techniques. Accid. Anal. Prev. 108, 122–130 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    NSW, W. Compliance and prosecution, 14 December 2018. Accessed 14 Dec 2018
  7. 7.
    QLD, W. Incidents alerts, 11 December 2018. Accessed 11 Dec 2018
  8. 8.
    Victoria, W.: Incidents and prosecution, 13 December 2018. Accessed 13 Dec 2019
  9. 9.
    WA, W. Safety alerts directory, 11 December 2018. Accessed 11 Dec 2018
  10. 10.
    OSHA. Reports of fatalities and catastrophe archive (2018). Accessed 10 Dec 2018
  11. 11.
    Beyea, S.C.: High reliability theory and highly reliable organizations. AORN J. 81(6), 1319–1322 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Perrow, C.: Organizing to reduce the vulnerabilities of complexity. J. Contingencies Cris. Manag. 7(3), 150–155 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Sutcliffe, K.M.: High reliability organizations (HROs). Best Pract. Res. Clin. Anaesthesiol. 25, 133–144 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Weick, K.E.S., Kathleen, M., Obstfeld, D.: Organizing for high reliability: processes of collective mindfulness. Cris. Manag. 3(1), 81–123 (2008)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hales, D.N.C., Satya, S.: Creating high reliability organizations using mindfulness. J. Bus. Res. 69(8), 2873–2881 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Vogus, T.J., Sutcliffe, K.M.: Organizational mindfulness and mindful organizing: a reconciliation and path forward. Acad. Manag. Learn. Educ. 11(4), 722–735 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Weick, K., Sutcliffe, K.: Managing the unexpected: resilient performance in an age of uncertainty. Wiley, New York (2007)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Vogus, T.J., Iacobucci, D.: Creating highly reliable health care: How reliability-enhancing work practices affect patient safety in hospitals. Ind. Labor Relat. Rev. 69(4), 911–938 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Tolk, J.N., Cantu, J., Beruvides, M.: High reliability organization research: a literature review for health care. EMJ - Eng. Manag. J. 27(4), 218–237 (2015)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hopkins, A.: The problem of defining high reliability organisations. ANU College of Asia and the Pacific; (2007). Accessed 14 May 2017
  21. 21.
    Weick, K., Kathleen, M.: Managing the Unexpected-Assuring High Performance in an Age of Complexity, Jossey-Bass (2001)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Agwu, A.E., Labib, A., Hadleigh-Dunn, S.: Disaster prevention through a harmonized framework for high reliability organisations. Saf. Sci. 111, 298–312 (2019)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Aanestad, M., Jensen, T.B.: Collective mindfulness in post-implementation IS adaptation processes. Inf. Organ. 26(1), 13–27 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health SciencesUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Interdisciplinary Built Environment ResearchUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia

Personalised recommendations