1. Research

I am an organisational psychologist who specialises in occupational health and in safety management. I am well published and my research as been well funded over the years. The driving forces behind my research have been a love of exploration and discovery and the desire to make a difference in terms of improving people’s lives.

Much of my research now focuses on the psychology and management of severely stressful situations (or disasters) within the framework of sustainable working life. It includes cancer survivorship and working life. My interests in disasters encompass natural disasters, including those of Hurricane Katrina and the Sichuan earthquake, and man made disasters such as rail crashes. I also have a historical interest in the Great Irish Famine.

I talked through my interest in disaster psychology and management in my Alec Roger Memorial Lecture 2011 through the lens of resilience. This lecture is available on YouTube.

Psychosocial Risk Management: Much of my research has concerned the impact of work and organisational design and management on the experience of work-related stress and, in turn, on employees’ health and the healthiness of their organisations. This work has involved both empirical and policy related research. Much of my empirical research has been carried out in collaboration with private and public sector companies through the design and evaluation of organisational level interventions. Underpinning my various interests has been the development of a risk management methodology for dealing with, what are now termed, psychosocial risks to employee health.

Major Hazards, Disasters and Serious Illness (see above): The interest in work-related stress and psychosocial risk management has largely focused on the chronic challenges to employee health inherent in the way we design and manage work and work organisations. At the other end of the scale of the nature of what might go or be wrong is an interest in the impact and management of exposure to major hazards and disasters and also in surviving serious illness. These new research interests can be seen as a broadening on my involvement with work-related issues or the development of these issues within the public or community domain.

My work on major hazards has encompassed, over the years, both rail transport and nuclear power generation. My interest in disasters has had a historic perspective in relation to The Great Irish Famine and a contemporary one in relation to Hurricane Katrina. My concern for survivorship, expressed through the METIS programme, is specifically focused on cancer and the role of work and working.

Understanding and Promoting Public Health: Framing all of my research has been a concern for health both at the individual and the organisational or community levels. Much of my published work in this area has been on better understanding and then promoting both individual and public health.