High PTSD in those bereaved by workplace fatalities

A new international report from leading authorities in Australia, has confirmed high rates of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depressive and grieving disorders in those bereaved by workplace fatalities. The study, which has been provisionally accepted by the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, is the work of leading researchers Dr Linda Matthews, and Professors Michael Quinlan and Philip Bohle, aimed to document the prevalence and key correlates of probable PTSD, major depressive disorder (MDD), and prolonged grief disorder (PGD) in family members following a workplace injury fatality - something that has had little investigation.

The researchers collected data from participants from Australia (62 per cent), Canada (17 per cent), the USA (16 per cent) and the UK (5 per cent). The majority were females (89.9 per cent), reflecting the gender distribution of traumatic workplace deaths (approximately 90 per cent of fatalities are male). Most were partners/spouses (38.5 per cent) or parents (35 per cent) and over half (64 per cent) were next-of-kin to the deceased worker. The majority of deaths occurred in the industries that regularly account for more than 70 per cent of all industrial deaths – construction; manufacturing; transport; and agriculture forestry and fishing.

They found that after 6.4 years post the death, 61 per cent of participants had probable PTSD, 44 per cent had probable MDD, and 43 per cent had probable PGD. Being next-of-kin and having a self-reported mental health history increased the risk of having MDD.
The researchers say the findings highlight the potential magnitude of the problem and the need for satisfactory information and support for bereaved families.
Source: Matthews, L; Quinlan, M: & Bohl, P. Prevalence and correlates of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and prolonged grief disorder in families bereaved by a traumatic workplace death [Abstract]. Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00609

New workers face higher risks  

It is s not a worker's age, but how long they have been in the job that determines the level of risk, according to a major review. The paper concludes there should be renewed efforts to raise awareness of the issue, introduce protective policies and to ensure “worker empowerment.”

A team led by Curtis Breslin of the Toronto-based Institute for Work & Health (IWH) searched the peer-reviewed literature for articles published between 1995 and January 2018 on job tenure and risk of work injury. It found 128 studies meeting review criteria, requiring: they were quantitative studies about people doing paid work; they examined the length of time working at a particular job, firm or industry; and they had a method for taking into account other factors that may have affected risk of work injury. After studies were assessed for quality, the team was left with 51 medium- and high-quality studies. The review confirmed that risks of acute injury are higher during workers’ first year at a job or a firm. However, the evidence on the risks of musculoskeletal symptoms, injuries or disorders during workers’ first year at a job or a firm was ‘inconclusive’.  
Read more: At Work, issue 97, Institute for Work & Health, Summer 2019.
FC Breslin et al. Are new workers at elevated risk for work injury? A systematic review, [Abstract] Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 76, issue 9, pages 694-701, 2019. doi:10.1136/oemed-2018-105639 Source: Risks 911

Share Tweet


In a groundbreaking effort, an employment injury scheme piloted in the readymade garment sector in Bangladesh will now include commuting accidents as part of industrial accidents eligible for compensation payout.
Read More
The study has examined the help-seeking intentions and mental well-being of construction workers in the UK. A key challenge faced by designers of workplace interventions is low engagement with support services.
Read More
At the National Health and Safety Conference last month, Professor Helen Lingard, a leading workplace health and safety researcher from RMIT University, discussed how role-playing games (RPGs) can help apprentices develop better...
Read More