Critical Incident Debriefing

When traumatic events occur within or near a workplace, it can have a major impact on the mental health and productivity of all employees. Even if an employee or employer was not directly impacted by the event, it can still lead to distress, trauma, or fear of the event re-occurring. It is important to have the time and support to be able to debrief on the incident and resolve any concerns, worries or emotional distress that has resulted.

Some examples of a critical incident that may have occurred in the workplace includes:

  • Assaults or conflicts between colleagues, customers or clients
  • Fires in the workplace
  • Workplace accidents and injuries
  • The death of somebody within the company or business
  • Bomb threats
  • Experiencing other major threats or abuse

These sorts of critical incidents can leave a substantial negative impact on workers if the time is not taken to acknowledge, discuss and debrief on the incident and the way everybody is feeling. If you have experienced one of these incidents in your workplace or manage an organisation or business in which this has occurred, support should be sought as soon as possible. This can assist everyone to feel safe, comfortable and productive as soon as possible.

VCPS practitioners who specialise in workplace incidents can assist in debriefing and developing future directions after a critical incident occurs. If you have experienced this in your workplace you could seek this support for yourself, or as a manager you could refer the individuals who were affected to receive individual support. Some VCPS practitioners can also attend a workplace to support the staff members as a group if the critical incident has affected a large number of people.

A VCPS practitioner would work through a structured process for debriefing on the incident, which would include strategies such as:

  • Discussing the event and the way it has affected each member of staff – both internal and external to the workplace
  • Identifying if there are any risks, threats or safety issues that remain for the staff and how to adequately manage these issues
  • Managing any trauma experienced by the staff and providing individual support services which can be accessed as required in the near future
  • Bringing closure to the incident and working towards re-entering the community and the workplace as a team