A catastrophic injury that occurs at work, such as the recent case in Rhode Island where a worker died after a 70 foot fall from the Mt. Hope Bridge in Bristol, can have a wide number of implications. One incident can involve Workers' Compensation benefits, Third Party Liability, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Violations, and more. However, one thing that many people may not realize at the time is the effect that witnessing a catastrophic incident can have on co-workers.
People who witness catastrophic injuries or come on the scene shortly thereafter commonly suffer from symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depending on the circumstances, may be entitled to Workers' Compensation Benefits. Psychological injuries such as PTSD which are suffered at work are compensable, however there are many claims that go uncompensated simply because the worker who is suffering from PTSD does not know what they are entitled to or where to go for help.
Workers who witness a catastrophic injury at work and are suffering from intrusive memories such as flashbacks or nightmares, emotional numbing including feeling hopelessness, avoiding activities they once enjoyed, memory problems, trouble concentrating, and difficulty maintaining close relationships, symptoms of anxiety like irritability, feeling guilt or shame, trouble sleeping or self-destructive behavior are entitled to treat with a medical professional and, if their injury is disabling, receive weekly Workers' Compensation indemnity benefits.