Unfortunately, workplace accidents occur every day across Australia. These range from the very minor, such as cutting your hand on a protruding nail, right through to the major – a fall from a ladder, or electrocution due to exposed wires. These incidents can occur in any workplace, from agriculture and construction, to manufacturing and mining. Though many workplace accidents can be prevented through proper workplace health and safety training, should something happen, it can have a notable effect on employees.

These incidents can occur in any workplace, from agriculture and construction, to manufacture and mining.

Say that one of your employees incurred a small injury and had to go to an emergency department for treatment. He or she may have to take a few days off work. Your establishment is given the all-clear by investigating authorities, but even so, the remainder of your employees are a little apprehensive to get on with their work. Of course, this is completely understandable – we wouldn't be human if we weren't a little nervous re-entering the scene of an accident, no matter how small. 

The issue, then, lies in helping your employees return to previous levels of productivity, and this is by no means easy. Let's take a look at how you can best support your team through a potentially difficult time, and return things to normal as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What is critical incident stress management? 

One of the most effective ways to deal with the aftermath of an accident or an incident where injury could occur is a technique known as critical incident stress management (CISM). The method is described by Good Therapy as a style of crisis intervention designed to help support people who may have been involved in, or were affected by, traumatic events of any severity. Of course, workplace incidents can affect employees in a variety of different ways, and CISM uses a step-by-step plan to deliver a viable solution to the problem. Though there are several different methods utilised in CISM, there are a few which are highly relevant in the workplace – here are a two of the most applicable.

Talking about a workplace accident  is one of the first steps on the road to recovery.
Talking about a workplace accident is one of the first steps on the road to recovery.

– Defusing

According to the Victorian government's Better Health Channel, 'defusing' is carried out by an employee trained in workplace health and safety immediately after an event has taken place, with the intention of drawing a line under it and lending instant personal support. The key aim of defusing a situation is to stabilise workers, and give them every opportunity to talk over their concerns. This defusing process should happen no more than 12 hours after the incident has taken place. An open dialogue is encouraged, and after defusing has happened, a later debrief can be set up for those that require further care.

– Debriefing

'Debriefing' takes the defusing part of the process to the next level. It would normally take place a few days (up to a week or so) after the incident has taken place. This method takes the form of what initially appears to be a counselling session, though it isn't strictly as such – rather, it's a voluntary discussion designed to put the event in sharp perspective. Therefore, workers can gain a little clarity about just what has gone on, helping them come up with a plan for recovery.

Of course, it is imperative that managers and business owners understand that everybody's mind operates in a unique fashion, That huge, burly, bearded man, seemingly so fearless, could be visibly shaken up and might need an extended amount of time away from the workplace, whereas someone usually timid in demeanour may be keen to get back to work. You never can tell.

In any case, it's important that your staff, especially ones in a position of authority, are fully clued up when it comes to emergency management. At AlertForce, our range of courses can help prepare your employees for any eventuality, so get in touch with us to find out more today. 

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