From Accidents to Assaults

How organisational responses to traumatic incidents can prevent Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the workplace

Rick J, Young K, Guppy A | Contract Research Report 195/98 | Health and Safety Executive | Oct 1998

The 20th century has seen a growing awareness of the psychiatric impact of certain severe stressors on an individual's ability to function effectively, in both their personal and professional lives.

Attention has more recently focused on the psychological consequences for those exposed directly to, or working in the aftermath of, extremely traumatic incidents. There has been much debate around trauma management and the treatment of traumatic symptoms.

This, the second of two reports commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive, considers current understanding of trauma and the extent to which it can affect employees in a wide range of jobs. It presents findings from case studies in 17 organisations, covering a diverse range of occupations.

It explores organisational responsibility and the legal implications of trauma. An overview is provided of current knowledge on the efficacy of the different trauma management practices. Different approaches to the management of risk, and the treatment of PTSD and trauma related mental health, are identified and discussed. The report considers the way forward for trauma management practices, with conclusions and recommendations.