A critical incident is a relatively sudden, unanticipated event or situation which falls outside of usual day-to-day life. It can be life-threatening or threatening to an employee’s health and safety. Employees may be directly involved in the event, have been a witness to it, or a colleague may have been involved in the event. Critical incidents may occur at work or outside the workplace. Some examples of a critical or traumatic incident include:
- Serious workplace accidents
- Death or injury of employees or their family members
- Witnessing a traumatic event
- Violent confrontations such as an assault or armed hold-up
- Natural disasters such as floods or bushfires, etc
Reactions to critical incidents can differ widely, depending upon how involved people are in the event, their personal history (if something similar has happened to them before) and personal health and stress levels before the event occurred.