How to Deal Effectively with Traumatic Incidents in Workplace


Health and safety legislation has made modern workplaces far safer than they were 100 years ago. Major accidents and incidents are rare, but accidents do happen, and small business owners and managers need to have systems in place to deal with the aftermath of such an event. Failure to do so can have serious consequences on your business, employees and yourself. To deal effectively with such incidents you need to understand what you need to do before and after the incident. Here are few tips that will help.

Types of Traumatic Incidents

Burglaries are more common than you might expect, and commercial property is often a prime target. Thieves target IT equipped companies, premises where cash is stored in the building, and pharmaceutical supplies. If a burglary takes place out of hours, there will be damage, but if a criminal targets a workplace during working hours, the incident could escalate into violence.

Violent crime is common in the US. The right to bear arms is written into the American constitution, and so, Americans can carry firearms. There have been a number of high-profile incidents involving shooters attacking a workplace, so it is essential that all businesses have a major incident policy in place.

Thirteen people out of every 100,000 people will commit suicide in the US. Unfortunately, workplace suicides are on the rise. Suicides amongst the protective services are the highest and occupation is a major risk factor, but anyone could choose to end their life in their place of work. Firearms are used in 48% of all workplace suicides, particularly in the protective services sector.

Risk Assessment

Conduct a risk assessment in the workplace. High-stress working environments has a higher chance of suicidal thoughts amongst their employees, and certain sectors such as abortion clinics are usual targets for violent protests. Additionally, you should also consider other factors, such as current and ex-employees with a history of mental illness or depression, or employees in relationships with a history of domestic abuse.

Preventing an Incident

Prevention is key and should be a high priority for your company. Prevention tactics can include checking security on the site as tight security measures will deter burglars and prevent unauthorized personnel gaining access to the site. Also, perform background checks on all job applicants, and if you need to fire an employee, do so in a sensitive manner to avoid grievances. Treat your employees with respect, and you are less likely to trigger the possibility of an incident taking place.

Have an Incident Plan in Place

Have procedures in place, such as panic alarms and safe places where employees can hide until law enforcement arrives. If your workplace is high risk, speak to employees about risk factors and ensure everyone is well aware of security protocols; also, ask if there are any extra measures your employees would like you to take into consideration.

Dealing with the Aftermath

If a traumatic incident does occur, provide counseling services to all affected employees. You may need crime scene cleanup, so employ a professional company to limit the chances of your employees seeing the aftermath of the traumatic incident.

There is likely to be considerable media coverage of a violent workplace incident, so advise your employees what to say and do. Put your employees’ wellbeing first and recognize that some staff members won’t be able to return to work right away; some may never come back.

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