The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines critical incident stress as “Workers responding to emergency events and or disasters will see and experience events that will strain their ability to function. These events, which include having to witness or experience tragedy, death, serious injuries and threatening situations, are called ‘Critical Incidents.’ The physical and psychological well-being of those experiencing this stress, as well as their future ability to function through a prolonged response, will depend upon how they manage this stress.”
If a critical incident (e.g., an on-the-job death, a natural disaster, a substantial workplace accident) has occurred in the workplace, the physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral health of your employees can be negatively impacted. The effects, unfortunately, can be severe.
While OSHA has no standards that apply to the hazards associated with critical incident stress, the agency recommends that in the interest of the health and safety, the following information be shared to help reduce the risks associated with critical incident stress.
Critical incident stress is most commonly associated with disaster relief workers, but can also be a risk for workers in any industry. Effected parties may include not only those directly injured, but also those who witness the incident, those who assist on the scene, and others who may be particularly sensitive to anxiety-provoking stimuli (e.g., the suicide of a colleague).
Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is a method of ameliorating these risks among employees after an incident has occurred. For CISD to effectively address and/or prevent potentially debilitating symptomology following a critical incident, it must be implemented as quickly as possible. Hiring a professional, outside team to conduct CISD may be crucial, particularly if a substantial incident impacted workers at all levels, including management and administration.
Quick, professional implementation of CISD is the key to reducing the likelihood that workers who have experienced a critical incident will develop symptoms leading to lost work time and decreased productivity.
Contact us today to discuss how Emilcott ‘s commitment to occupational health and safety can reduce the risk of your business experiencing a preventable critical incident.