No accident: Health, well-being, performance...and danger

James Quick, M. Ann McFadyen, Debra L. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a theory of preventive health management for high-risk employees, who are the 1-3 percent with a propensity to become dangerous.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper reviews the literature and design a prevention model for high-risk employees that relies on primary, secondary, and tertiary surveillance indicators as well as prevention methods. The behaviors of these employees are often not accidental, even if not always intentional.
Findings – Primary prevention through organizational socialization and supervision can reduce emergence of high-risk employees. Early identification through secondary surveillance then prevention of incivility and deviance can deter escalation to violent behavior. When high-risk employees become
dangerous and violent, tertiary prevention calls for containment, caregiving, forgiveness, and resilience.
Practical implications – The paper suggests that HR professionals can advance health, well-being, and performance while averting danger and violence by identifying and managing high-risk employees, anticipating their needs, and providing supportive resources and advising.
Originality/value – The paper applies public health prevention to deviant and violent employees.
Keywords Leadership, Stress, Accidents, Organization development
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)98-119
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2014


  • Leadershp
  • Stress
  • Accidents
  • Organization development


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