Risk management team members — add a recent article written by David Ropeik, posted on the Psychology Today website and entitled “Poor Risk Communication in Japan Makes the Fear Much Worse” to your required reading resource list.

By asking the question, “Can the fear of radiation do more harm than the radiation itself?” our disaster preparedness and crisis management teams are asked to focus beyond the disaster reality and recognize that how you communicate the disaster reality to your employees, fellow executive management, the families of your employees and the communities affected by the disaster requires much thought and consideration.  What role does risk communication play in your organization’s business continuity management system and disaster recovery plans?

As this article points out, “… poor risk communication will make listeners feel mistrustful. And mistrust in the people who are supposed to keep you safe translates into anger and worry, which causes all sorts of serious health risks. The likelihood of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety goes way up. Biologically, fear produces chronic stress, which increases blood pressure and raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, suppresses the immune system and raises susceptibility to and severity of infectious disease, increases the likelihood of Type 2 diabetes, suppresses growth, memory and fertility. The risk from how people perceive risk is as real as the physical danger itself, perhaps more.”

Poor risk communications can arise from many sources.  This article points out at least the following:

  1. Arrogance and institutional self-protection on the part of a company responsible for the creation of the threat,
  2. The tendency by risk managers to avoid being honest with people about scary news for fear that it will make people afraid,
  3. A combative or defensive relationship with an aggressive, alarmist news media,
  4. Failure to recognize that risk communication is a vital part of overall risk management.

If applicable, please also pass this information along to the business continuity, PS-Prep strategy planning team members in your organization.

Read more  about the important role that risk communication plays in your disaster recovery planning process.

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