Emergency Preparedness and Response

Accidents Happen—Here’s How to Recognize Critical Incident Stress

In the immediate aftermath of an accident, the focus is generally on securing the scene and helping any injured workers, as it should be. But workers who witness the death of a coworker, come to the aid of injured coworkers, or clean up after an accident may find the incident traumatic, too—a response called “critical incident stress.” Some individuals can also develop long-term effects, known as post-traumatic stress.

You can help workers cope with what they have witnessed, recover their equilibrium, and safeguard their mental health.

Who needs to be trained? Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a “critical incident,” such as death, serious injury, or a threatening situation, should have this information.

Why train workers in dealing with critical incident stress? After a traumatic incident, workers may experience debilitating feelings of guilt, anxiety, fear, or anger that affect their physical and mental health and their ability to function. Without intervention, they can become victims of the incident.

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