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The World Health Organisation (WHO), describes a critical incident as an event out of the range of normal experience – one which is sudden and unexpected, involves the perception of a threat to life and can include elements of physical and emotional loss. Often such events are sufficiently disturbing to overwhelm, or threaten to overwhelm, a person’s coping capacity. Most people would be severely shaken by a critical incident but are likely to recover from its impact with appropriate support.


Examples of these incidents include line of duty deaths or serious injury to operations personnel. By their nature, frontline staff such as those who work in the healthcare sector, emergency, military, security, rescue, enforcement and others who operate in similar industries within the private sector, are engaged in higher risk activities and are actively exposed to these stressors in their line of work.


Addressing critical incidents

Because of the nature of the job, attempting to minimise repeated exposures in these settings presents a major challenge for management. Therefore, employers and managers of occupational groups that are at high risk of exposure to critical incidents are required to have a robust set of primary, secondary and tertiary interventions to help minimise, as far as reasonably possible, the risk of psychological injury in the aftermath of a critical incident.


Work PositiveCI delivers structured guidance enabling organisations to develop an action plan to mitigate against workplace critical incidents.