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Chronic and acute stress are relevant to individuals working in high-risk work environments. A failure to cope with stressors can result in work errors, reduced productivity, feelings of discomfort or ultimately even illness on the part of the individual, and poor performance for the team or organisation. however, through the identification and reduction of stressors, and effective training, it is possible to minimise the effects of stress on individual and team performance.

Key points

  • • there are two types of stress experienced by individuals in high-reliability work environments: chronic stress and acute stress.
  • • Chronic stress is related to conditions in the workplace and the individual’s reaction to these, usually over a protracted period of time.
  • • Acute stress is sudden, novel, intense and of relatively short duration, disrupts goal-oriented behaviour and requires a proximate response.
  • • it is the individual’s perception of the demands being placed upon them, and the perception of the resources they have available to cope with the demands, that dictates whether the individual feels under stress.
  • To mitigate the effects of chronic and/or acute stress in the workplace, it is necessary to understand the stressors, mediators or resource, symptoms and effects of stress on an individual, team or organisation.
  • • Stress prevention techniques can be primary (prevent stress from occurring), secondary (the prompt detection and management of stress) and tertiary (the treatment of the effects of stress).
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