Sep. 11, 2017
◈ The government has so far focused its efforts on preventing direct damage to workers, for example by preventing safety accidents and occupational diseases.
- From now on, however, it will not neglect to take care of workers' mental health problems as well by preventing trauma after occupational accidents.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) has announced that starting with Daegu, North Gyeongsang Province and Busan on September 12th, it will implement a systematic trauma management program for workers who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic incident, such as a collapse, a caught-between accident, an amputation and a co-worker's suicide, to help them overcome their anxiety disorder caused by trauma (post-traumatic stress disorder).
If a local employment and labor office finds the need to manage trauma while investigating a workplace where a fatal accident occurred, it will directly advise and recommend the workplace to carry out a trauma management program* and will provide information to the relevant worker so that he/she can visit and receive psychological counseling at the nearest Workers Health Center**.
* The main contents of the program are as follows: status investigation → first counseling (IES-R and counseling therapy) → second counseling (re-examination and progress check, specialized treatment if necessary and provision of information on industrial accident compensation) → tracking (by phone or in person) → additional counseling if necessary
** A Workers Health Center, staffed on a full-time basis with doctors, nurses, work environment specialists, counseling psychologists, exercise prescription specialists and other relevant specialists, provides a variety of occupational health services, including occupational disease counseling. There are now 21 such Centers operating nationwide. A total of 165,000 people (of whom 135,000 were working in workplaces with fewer than 50 employees) used the Centers' counseling services in 2016.
In particular, for medium and small workplaces with fewer than 50 employees, Workers Health Centers will provide the trauma management program including the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) and psychological counseling services. Details shared in counseling sessions will be kept confidential.
※ Large workplaces with 50 employees or more will be instructed to manage their workers' trauma on their own in cooperation with external specialists or local medical institutions (including public health centers). Workers who visit a Workers Health Center in person to receive trauma counseling will be provided with such counseling regardless of company size.
At first, the support will be provided mainly to workers involved in fatal accidents, such as collapses, caught-in or caught-between accidents, collisions, accidental amputations, falls from high-rise buildings and a co-worker's suicide, which are very traumatic for workers, but the scope will be expanded by increasing counseling personnel.
So far the government has focused much of its efforts on preventing direct physical damage to workers by preventing safety accidents and occupational diseases.
From now on, however, it will not neglect to take care of workers' mental health problems as well by preventing occupational accident-related trauma.
MOEL will operate the trauma management program on a pilot basis from September to October, offering standard counseling services, based on the counseling manual it has prepared, to workplaces in Daegu, North Gyeongsang Province and Busan. After confirming that there is no problem with the program, it will implement it nationwide from November 1st.
Kim Wang, the Director-General of the Industrial Accident Prevention and Compensation Bureau, stressed, "It is an important obligation of the government to help workers overcome the trauma and anxiety disorder caused by their co-workers' horrible accidents and return to everyday life." He asked workplaces to "actively allow traumatized workers to participate in the trauma management program".