The FRA Calls for Psychological First Aid for Railroads

Where Do Your Employees Turn When a Critical Incident Occurs?

From January to April of 2014 the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reported that there were 3,960 accidents on national railroads, a 9.5% increase over the same time period in 2013. You’ve most likely seen recent news stories about accidents involving railroads, some with tragic conclusions. On July 5th in El Paso, Texas two men were struck and killed while walking on railroad tracks and, on July 2nd a railroad employee in South Beloit, Illinois was hit by a moving train and was critically injured.

When a critical incident occurs on a railroad those who respond and/or witness the incident will need help dealing with what happened. The FRA announced on March 28, 2014 a new rule “requiring each Class I, intercity passenger, and commuter railroad to establish and implement a critical incident stress plan for employees who are directly involved in, witness, or respond to, a critical incident.”

One of the stipulations of this new rule is a provision for “counseling, guidance, and other appropriate support services to each directly-involved employee”.  This is a necessary step that will allow the recovery process to begin. Talking with trained counselors gives those affected a chance to really deal with the situation and receive the help they need.

Managers and supervisors will also need training for dealing with these incidents, so they can react appropriately when an employee is involved in a critical incident. The FRA calls this Psychological First Aid and defines it as “a recommended non-clinical technique that railroads and trained lay people can utilize to provide directly-involved employees ‘situational knowledge’ that would help these employees gain ready access to counseling, guidance and other required support services…”

With such a robust set of services needed for those affected by critical incidents it is plain to see that it is necessary to employ an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that will be all things at once. An EAP that can offer 24/7 counseling services is critical in an industry where an incident may occur at any time. Preventative measures will need to be taken as well, in the form of trainings for both managers and employees alike. Ensure your compliance with the FRA standards by using an EAP that will help all of your employees through the difficult times after a critical incident occurs.