Safety implications of the neuroscience of plasticity and the work athlete: Abstract of a keynote address on safety leadership cultural change science*
Leadership in occupational health and safety will only be achieved by adopting the latest research about human performance. Science has recently emerged that the brain is plastic in nature. Vital new imperatives emerge for occupational health and safety. The importance of fitness and exercise on peak performance in occupational health and safety has not been well understood until now. It relates not only to the well-being of the physical body to the functioning of the brain. We know that everything needed to be known about the performance of any work can be learnt by studying athletics. All people doing athletics get hot when they are performing. We know that. It’s not new. But what it means for thinking, cognition, creativity in business, and safety-critical decision-making in human error has not been realized. Unfortunately many people involved in intellectual work where decision-making accuracy is vital are kept cool by air conditioning and/or low metabolic demands. The disadvantage of this is that the plastic in the brain becomes hard. Exercise will help heat the brain, increasing the plasticity, and allowing ideas to flow more easily. This is why executive fitness is vital. This is also true in decision-critical high-demand tasks in surgery, transport, heavy engineering, mining, etc and means we need a new term “work-athlete”. It is known by the science of accident analysis that human error sometimes occurs in cool conditions. It explains for instance higher accident rates at night. This is now known to be because the plastic of the brain goes too hard blocking cognition. To overcome this it is vital to introduce exercise and fitness programs. However performance can only be maintained by using a Brain Energy Activation Neuron Intelligence Enhancer (BEANIETM). The BEANIETM functions to retain the heat of exercise during executive decision-making ensuring that heat and the effects of plastic brain fluidity is maintained. BEANIEsTM also come in the colors of your favorite sports team.