Critical Incidents & Adverse Workplace Events

Critical incidents include situations that cause severe stress to employees and that may disrupt present or future productivity in the work setting. Critical incidents include multi- or mass casualty events in which injuries or death occur due to accidents or disasters, and traumatic and/or violent events or situations impacting the workplace. Adverse workplace events are more common and include unexpected death of a coworker, serious or terminal illness of a colleague, impactful news or community events impacting workforce members, or significant disruption or change (including layoffs) impacting the workforce. 

Best Practice in Adverse Event Response

Research indicates that employees find it most important and reassuring to receive information from their leaders in response to individual tragedies, difficult workplace change, or other impactful situations. When difficulty impacts our workplaces, employees typically want available information and understanding from their leadership. Leaders are key in assisting employees navigate difficult circumstances. Be prepared to provide any appropriate information that can be shared with impacted employees, offer individual support available through the state (CSEAP) or your department, and follow-up to update employees and remind them of available resources. 

Best Practice in Critical Incident Response

Current research in the areas of grief, loss, and trauma indicate that, despite experiencing difficult emotions, we are generally wired to be resilient in times of duress. Typically, immediate response to a critical incident should be focused on securing a safe environment and meeting basic needs of those impacted by the incident. Following immediate safety-specific response, Psychological First Aid — which focuses on provision of non-intrusive support and practical information — can be the most helpful response to workplace traumas and/or disasters.

CSEAP Response to Critical Incidents

CSEAP is available, following a workplace incident or trauma, to provide practical grief, loss, and trauma information as well as guidance to employees on accessing CSEAP services. This type of support can be most helpful 3 to 10 business days following an event for homogeneous groups of employees (employees from the same unit, word group, or who know each other well in departments). Outside of multi-casualty, mass-impact, or natural disaster events when CSEAP has been tasked with providing Psychological First Aid response, CSEAP typically does not provide daylong or multi-day on-site response.

CSEAP staff are trained to provide Psychological First Aid, one-on-one grief counseling to individual employees, and consultation to supervisors and leaders related to workplace impact resulting from the critical incident.

Critical Incident Services

Critical Incident Services
Impacted PartyAvailable Services
EmployeesGrief, trauma-related, and general counseling is available through CSEAP free-of-charge to all state employees. Urgent scheduled triage appointments, in-person or by phone, may be available within 1 business day of an incident impacting the workplace. CSEAP offers 24/7 crisis response to employees experience acute distress. Call CSEAP at 1-800-821-8154 to request these individual support services.
SupervisorsSupervisors are invited to contact CSEAP for consultation related to supporting employees through an adverse workplace event or critical incident impacting the workplace. Consultation is typically scheduled as a video or phone meeting by calling 1-800-821-8154.
Agency or Department LeadersCSEAP is available to provide scheduled supportive education to your employees about adverse workplace events and critical incidents. Video or in-person (with appropriate notice) educational sessions provide employees with information about resilience, coping, trauma (when relevant), and grief or loss. Best practice indicates that this type of interaction be voluntary (for impacted employees) and take place days following an event or incident. Call 1-800-821-8154 to request a consultation regarding this type of supportive presentation.

Do you have general questions or has your team recently experienced an adverse workplace event or critical incident?

Scroll down for downloadable PDF handouts and information. You may also contact CSEAP at 303-866-4314 and request a consultation with Janeen Haller-Abernethy to discuss your situation and options for CSEAP response.