Traumatic events & post-traumatic stress disorder

What is it?

Although every employer must provide a safe work environment, some workers are still exposed to traumatic events, such as :

  • Death or serious injury of a person
  • Witnessing the death of a person
  • Violent physical attacks
  • Physical threats
  • Bomb threats, explosions, fires
  • Intentional or unintentional release of chemicals or infectious agents
  • Search and rescue activities
  • On-site recovery of individuals and investigation following a major accident or disaster
  • Suicide or attempted suicide

Most people who have experienced this type of event recover with the simple passage of time. However, for some people, psychological lesions will develop, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Consequences for workplaces


In Canada, mental health problems cost about $21 billion per year in lost productivity. A significant portion of these costs is attributable to the consequences of traumatic events.

Direct costs:

  • absenteeism
  • insurance

Indirect costs

  • decrease in productivity
  • increased risk of error


The prevention and effective treatment of mental health disorders resulting from traumatic events is therefore a major issue for workplaces.

Interested in learning more about the issues surrounding violence in the workplace? Click here !



We offer a series of customized prevention, intervention, and recovery solutions to assist workplaces in implementing a trauma event management plan, provide appropriate support to employee needs, and raise employee awareness of the psychological consequences of traumatic events. The following services are offered for a fee but may be subject to preferential rates if you agree to the carrying out of research projects. Contact us for more information.

1. Psychological health assessment

Using scientifically validated measurement tools, we are able to assess employee well-being based on representative samples. This allows us to answer questions such as:

  • How many employees are at risk of having depression?
  • How many have post-traumatic stress disorder?
  • What can prevent or reduce the risk of developing a psychological problem?
  • What are the implications of psychological problems for workplace functioning?

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2. Comprehensive management policy / Intervention protocol

Many workplaces are at risk of experiencing traumatic events. Who should do what and when during such events? Our team can assist you through the various stages of the preparation and implementation of a comprehensive management policy for traumatic events, such as:

  • Developing and communicating a detailed description of the role of each person designated to act in case of a traumatic event ;
  • Providing appropriate and personalized support to victims and witnesses immediately after the event and in the following weeks;
  • Proposing a return to work plan adapted to the employee (in the event of work stoppage).

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3. Training

The Trauma Studies Centre offers customized training related to traumatic events. These training courses are given by experienced psychologists or researchers. An interactive format for small groups encourages exchanges between the trainer and the participants on concrete issues specific to them.

Examples of training

Violence at work: How to detect it, how to manage it, how to recover from it


  • To understand the different forms of workplace violence, even the most insidious ones.
  • To recognize the signs of the different psychological consequences of violence.
  • To identify the behaviours to adopt or avoid when an event has just occurred, whether it involves colleagues or oneself.
  • To learn about the best support and treatment practices in the short, medium, and long term.


This training is intended more specifically for employees and managers in environments at risk of experiencing violence at work: health and social services, public transportation, education, etc.

Assessment of post-traumatic stress disorder


  • Understand post-traumatic stress disorder and its symptoms
  • Identify the behaviours to adopt and avoid when symptoms occur in oneself or one’s colleagues.


This training is specifically intended for employees and managers in environments at risk for traumatic events (including workplace violence and major critical incidents, etc.): public safety personnel, health and social services, etc.

More training courses will be added on this page as they become available. We also create on-demand training courses related to traumatic events. Contact us for more information.

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4. Interventions

How should one intervene when an employee becomes a victim or witness of a traumatic event? Psychological first aid (PFA) is recognized by the World Health Organization as an innovative and promising practice in the event of traumatic events..

  • PFAs are based on eight actions that assist individuals exposed to trauma, both in the immediate and post-immediate phases.
  • The eight actions reveal that it is especially important to facilitate victims’ return to calm, a sense of security, support and comfort.
  • It should be noted that the time spent in each action and the time when this action will be initiated (immediate or post-immediate phase) depends on the needs and reactions of each individual.
  • Psychological first aid is a flexible intervention and its administration requires good clinical judgment and excellent knowledge of post-traumatic reactions.

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5. Return to work

Return to work following post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues following a traumatic event may require accommodations by the employer, within the limits of what the characteristics of the job allow.

The principles of return to work are as follows:

  • The workplace must have a strong commitment to employee health and safety;
  • The employer makes an offer of work accommodation to the worker so that they can safely return to work;
  • The employer must ensure that the plan supports the worker without causing prejudice to co-workers or supervisors.

We can help you set up a return to work program in partnership with Marc Corbière’s team.

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Help Resources

Concerning the drafting of a global management plan for traumatic events:

For organizations in the municipal business community in Quebec

For a guide (archived) issued by the Government of Canada on the actions to be taken by working organizations

For Canadian first responders

For the Canadian National Standard of Psychological Health and Safety