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Course 765 - Managing Workplace Stress

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Managing Stress


Everyone who experiences a disaster is touched by it, including crisis response workers and managers. Good planning can limit health and psychological consequences, minimize disruptions to daily life, and contribute to the growth and empowerment of the individual experiencing the disaster.

Mental health, substance abuse, public health, medical, and emergency response systems face many challenges in meeting the behavioral health needs that result from disasters, such as the construction accident in the picture to the right. Management of the behavioral health consequences of disasters requires a range of interventions at multiple levels in the pre-event, event, and post-event phases.

Pre-Event Planning


There are many preventive measures you, as a supervisor, can put into place before an event occurs which can minimize stress. A thoughtfully planned communications strategy can decrease the impact of stress while accomplishing the goal of delivering accurate and timely information within the organization and to the public.

A clear understanding of roles and procedures is critical to helping individuals manage stress. Training and preparedness in incident management procedure are key to stress management.

Here are some suggested action steps that may help you and your workers cope with stress in a more effective manner:

  • Establish clear lines of authority and responsibility to minimize stress by eliminating confusion about who reports to whom.
  • Provide regular training on stress management techniques.
  • Create a facility evacuation plan and practice drills on a regular basis.
  • Develop guidelines to help workers prepare for deployment.
  • Maintain an updated list of family members’ contact information for each employee.
  • Have a pre-established plan for how employees will check on their families, if disaster strikes during work hours.

During the Crisis-At the Scene

during event

At the disaster scene, you, as a manager, can provide certain supports for workers to handle stress and help them effectively perform the tasks at hand.

Here are some tips:

  • Clearly define individual roles and re-evaluate if the situation changes.
  • Institute briefings at each shift change that cover the current status of the work environment, safety procedures, and required safety equipment.
  • Partner inexperienced workers with experienced veterans. The buddy system is an effective method to provide support, monitor stress, and reinforce safety procedures.
  • Rotate workers from high-stress to lower-stress functions.
  • Initiate, encourage, and monitor work breaks, especially when casualties are involved.
  • Establish an area that separates workers from the scene and the public. At longer operations, establish an area where responders can shower, eat, change clothes, and sleep.
  • Provide security for staff at facilities or sites in dangerous areas, including escorts for workers going to and from their vehicles.
  • Reduce noise as much as possible by providing earplugs, noise mufflers, or telephone headsets.
during crisis

During the Crisis-At the Scene (Continued)

During the crisis, it is normal to experience stress, but remember stress can be identified and managed before it gets out of hand. You are the most important player in managing your stress during a crisis.

Here are some ways to manage stress during a crisis:

  • Adhere to established safety policies and procedures.
  • Encourage and support workers.
  • Recognize that “not having enough to do” or “waiting” are expected parts of disaster mental health response.
  • Pace yourself between low-and high-stress activities.
  • Take regular breaks whenever you experience troubling incidents and after each work shift.

After the Crisis

after crisis

The ending of the disaster assignment, whether it involved immediate response or long-term recovery work, can be a period of mixed emotions for workers.

While there may be some relief that the disaster operation is ending, there is often a sense of loss and "letdown," with some difficulty making the transition back into family life and the regular job.

Here are some ways to minimize stress for workers after the crisis:

  • Allow time off for workers who have experienced personal trauma or loss. Transition these individuals back into the organization by initially assigning them to less demanding jobs.
  • Develop protocols to provide workers with stigma-free counseling so workers can address the emotional aspects of their experience.
  • Institute exit interviews and/or seminars to help workers put their experiences into perspective and to validate what they have seen, done, thought, and felt.
  • Provide educational workshops around stress management and self-care.

Importance of Stress Management

stress management

Stress management is key to emergency management. Successful stress management is built on prevention and planning, a solid understanding of roles and responsibilities, support for colleagues, good self-care, and seeking help when needed.

Crisis response professionals may be repeatedly exposed to unique stressors during the course of their work. Successful implementation of any stress management plan requires overcoming some obstacles and barriers, including priority setting, resource allocation, organizational culture, and stigma.



Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. _____ and _____ in incident management procedures are key to stress management before a crisis occurs.

2. Before a crisis occurs, provide _____ training on stress management techniques.

3. During a crisis, management should clearly define individual roles and re-evaluate if the situation changes.

4. Take _____ breaks whenever you experience troubling incidents.

5. Which of the following is/are ways management can minimize stress for workers after a crisis?

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.