When a worker or an employer is considering whether or not they have to report an injury to OSHA, things can get confusing. It can be even more overwhelming when the illness or injury is not physical but mental. For the purposes of OSHA reporting, mental illnesses are not considered to be work-related unless that condition is post-traumatic stress disorder.
For employers and employees alike, this means that something like stress would not be considered reportable. If, on the other hand, an employee suffers post-traumatic stress disorder as the result of an event that occurred at work, that condition should be reported to OSHA as a work-related injury.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is considered a mental illness. When a person experiences something that is overwhelming, stressful or frightening, they may develop the condition. It is more prevalent when the event that occurred was sudden and unexpected. The person who suffers with PTSD may have felt powerless to stop the situation or struggle with feelings of wishing they could have done more.
In the workplace, an employee may ultimately suffer PTSD if they witness a co-worker become seriously injured, such as in a crushing incident. They may witness a death while on the job that causes them extreme emotional distress. When these things occur, PTSD is considered a work-related injury that is compensable.
Some of the occupations that have the greatest incidence of PTSD are corrections officers, police, firefighters and other emergency personnel. People in the military and those in the medical field are also particularly vulnerable.
Some people who experience PTSD may have symptoms rather quickly. Other people may not notice symptoms for years following the traumatic event. Signs of PTSD include nightmares, feelings of fear that don’t go away, severe anxiety and flashbacks. Other symptoms include difficulty concentrating, a feeling of foreboding, and persistently feeling angry.
People who are suffering with PTSD require support. The condition must be taken seriously and employers should understand how they can offer that support. If an employer isn’t sure about how they can support a person with PTSD, they can simply offer access to services that can provide that necessary support.
Workers dealing with PTSD following a serious incident on the job should not be embarrassed or feel as though they will just “get over it.” PTSD is a condition that requires medical intervention and extensive support. If you are a worker and believe that you are dealing with PTSD, speak with your employer.
If you believe that you are suffering with PTSD in San Luis Obispo and have questions regarding reporting your condition to OSHA or receiving support from your employer, reach out to our team. We will review your case at no cost to you and advise you of your legal options. Call our office today; our team is here for you and will offer you any type of assistance we can.