Emotional intelligence, situational awareness key to worker safety: study

Photo: DrAfter123/iStockphoto

Townsville, Australia — Emotional intelligence is critical to maintaining the level of situational awareness needed by workers who perform high-risk tasks, while individuals with low EI can be aided by effective safety training, results of a recent study out of Australia show.

Researchers from James Cook University and Flinders University gathered data via questionnaires from 133 full-time commercial airline pilots from four different carriers in China. They found that the role of emotional intelligence is even more prominent when a lack of training exists.

“Our findings suggest that, in addition to ensuring the effectiveness of safety training, companies may include EI tests when recruiting suitable employees for safety-critical positions, for high-EI individuals are more capable to conquer adverse situations,” the researchers write.

In addition, employers could set an appropriate predetermined threshold for the results of an emotional intelligence assessment for job candidates and exclude individuals who score below that mark.


The researchers suggest that managers monitor the effectiveness and adequacy of safety training, and when training capacity is limited, priority should be given to workers with low emotional intelligence.

The study was published in the September issue of the National Safety Council’s Journal of Safety Research.

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