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PREVENTION OF THE NEGATIVE IMPACT ON RAILWAY CREW AFTER INVOLVEMENT IN A RAIL FATALITY
Abstract: This study is part of a larger project which seeks to understand the circumstances and consequences of train related fatalities, particularly suicides, in order to propose, develop and eventually to test countermeasures to reduce the prevalence of railway suicides and to diminish the impact of railway fatalities. The purpose of the study reported here is to better understand the impact on railway employees of accidents and suicides by train and their implications for preventing negative impacts on workers. We present the results of retrospective interviews with train crew members across Canada. The analysis was performed on 40 interviews describing 132 incidents (mean: 3.4 incident described per person, ranging from 1 to 9) including 55 (41.7%) suicides. Train crew members confronted with a fatality experience intense emotional reactions, including many signs of acute stress disorder (ASD). These reactions can sometimes evolve to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) over the following months (in 17.5% of crew members). Those who experienced suicides are more likely to have stronger symptoms such as PSTD, than those who experienced accidental deaths. Acute symptoms recede over time for most crew members. However, it is important to note that, for 40% of the incidents described, there are some residual effects after 3 months (flashbacks, hyper vigilance, dreams and anxiety). Several factors dramatically increase the intensity and duration of difficulties experienced by the train crew after a fatality. Other factors may alleviate the effects of fatalities and result in a quick recovery from the initial stress reaction are presented. We conclude by presenting an integrated workplace prevention model that will be tested in Canadian railways.