Workplace Disruption following Psychological Trauma: Influence of Incident Severity Level on Organizations' Post-Incident Response Planning and Execution

GS DeFraia


Background: Psychologically traumatic workplace events (known as critical incidents), which occur globally, are increasing in prevalence within the USA. Assisting employers in their response is a growing practice area for occupational medicine, occupational social work, industrial psychology and other occupational health professions. Traumatic workplace events vary greatly in their level of organizational disruption.

Objective: To explore whether extent of workplace disruption influences organizations' decisions for post-incident response planning and plan execution.

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 extent of workplace disruption associated with organizational decisions regarding post-incident response.

Results: The more severe and disruptive the incident, the more likely organizations planned for and followed through to deliver on-site interventions. Following more severe incidents, organizations were also more likely to deliver group sessions and to complete follow-up consultations to ensure ongoing worker recovery.

Conclusion: Increasing occupational health practitioners' knowledge of varying levels of organizational disruption and familiarity with a range of organizational response strategies improves incident assessment, consultation and planning, and ensures interventions delivered are consistent with the level of assistance needed on both worker and organizational levels.


Workplace; Workplace violence; Occupational injuries; Psychology, industrial

doi: 10.15171/ijoem.2016.746

 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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