Freight Rail, Passenger Rail, Safety, Standards & Regulation, Workforce, Certification & Training

A best practice framework for rail trauma

Harm prevention charity TrackSAFE executive director Naomi Frauenfelder says work with national posttraumatic mental health centre Phoenix Australia has helped create a best practice framework for rail workers affected by trauma.

Frauenfelder last week said the framework had been developed to provide a guide to best practice approaches for all aspects of trauma management from pre-incident preparedness, through to the event itself and then responses after the incident.

She said work with Phoenix – formerly known as the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health – had helped TrackSAFE fulfil one of the key goals set out for it when it was formed in 2012, to improve conditions for employees impacted by collisions, injuries and fatalities on Australia’s railways.

“We wanted a best practice model to support those employees impacted by an incident at work,” Frauenfelder said. “Trauma is a major concern for the rail industry and the effects of suicide, for example, on drivers can be severe and lasting.”

To support the implementation of the framework Phoenix Australia has developed a staff trauma awareness video, Back on Track after Trauma, and two training programs to help employees build resilience skills and learn how to support others after a potentially traumatic event.

Frauenfelder said the ongoing work with Phoenix had proven invaluable.

“Many Australian rail organisations now use the framework to manage potentially traumatic events, and they’ve been exceptionally impressed by the quality of the materials and the training,” she said.

“Our current priority is to further develop the e-learning training and ensure that everyone is receiving the right training and support. We also need to provide industry with further practical and relevant resources, and evaluate all the work that has already been done.”

From Phoenix’s perspective, deputy director Andrea Phelps said it had been a privilege to help reach best practice trauma management across a “diverse industry”.

“Naomi, TrackSAFE and its board of directors take very seriously their duty of care to protect the mental health of employees within the industry,” Phelps said, “people who love their job, but can unfortunately be exposed to potentially traumatic events in their day-to-day duties.”

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