Psychological Trauma in the Workplace: Variation of Incident Severity among Industry Settings and between Recurring vs Isolated Incidents

GS DeFraia

Abstract


Background: Psychologically traumatic workplace events (known as critical incidents) occur within various work environments, with workgroups in certain industries vulnerable to multiple incidents. With the increasing prevalence of incidents in the USA, incident response is a growing practice area within occupational medicine, industrial psychology, occupational social work and other occupational health professions.

Objective: To analyze a measure of incident severity based on level of disruption to the workplace and explore whether incident severity varied among different industry settings or between workgroups experiencing multiple vs single traumatic incidents.

Methods: Administrative data mining was employed to examine practice data from a workplace trauma response unit in the USA. Bivariate analyses were conducted to test whether scores from an instrument measuring incident severity level varied among industry settings or between workgroups impacted by multiple vs isolated events.

Results: Incident severity level differed among various industry settings. Banks, retail stores and fast food restaurants accounted for the most severe incidents, while industrial and manufacturing sites reported less severe incidents. Workgroups experiencing multiple incidents reported more severe incidents than workgroups experiencing a single incident.

Conclusion: Occupational health practitioners should be alert to industry differences in several areas: pre-incident resiliency training, the content of business recovery plans, assessing worker characteristics, strategies to assist continuous operations and assisting workgroups impacted by multiple or severe incidents.


Keywords


Workplace; Workplace violence; Occupational injuries; Psychology, industrial



doi: 10.15171/ijoem.2015.545


 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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