Forgotten families following workplace death

April 28, 2014 by Jessica Hill

University of Sydney academics are advocating for a greater focus on the emotional, physical and financial toll of sudden workplace death on surviving families.

"The impact of a sudden, traumatic workplace death for the families of the workers killed is rarely considered beyond the days immediately following the death," says Associate Professor Lynda Matthews from the Faculty of Health Sciences.

"This is mainly because the formal procedures and investigations are focused on making judgments about possible breaches of law. They do not recognise families' need for timely information, support and justice.

"Despite some efforts to support them, families often experience extreme isolation."

Associate Professor Matthews and colleagues are conducting a world-first study to identify improvements that will help to better manage the consequences for families.

This follows a 2011 pilot study which showed profound long-term suffering for families.

"Our interviews revealed psychological problems such as depression and anxiety, and long-term physical health consequences like obesity, and all of this on top of financial stress," commented Professor Matthews.

"The impact on the children involved was particularly disturbing, with tensions widespread and drug and alcohol use and violence common among adolescent children of deceased workers."

This has prompted a call for an increased focus on how formal protocols respond to families following traumatic work-related death.

Participants in the previous study discussed varying interactions with authorities following the death, with some acknowledging the death in meaningful ways and others responding in ways that families perceived as hurtful.

"One thing that became very clear was that protocols for keeping families informed of developments regarding inquests, investigations and court cases were not effective and require urgent attention.

"Despite recent attempts at reform, there is little evidence of regulatory processes meeting families' needs for information or support at any stage of the post- process."

Explore further: Sudden cardiac death: Genetic disease ARVC more common than hitherto assumed

Related Stories

Sudden cardiac death: Genetic disease ARVC more common than hitherto assumed

March 6, 2014
The genetic disease ARVC leads to sudden cardiac death and is more common than it has been hitherto assumed. This is reported by an international team of researchers headed by Prof Dr Hendrik Milting from the Heart and Diabetes ...

New study to focus on understanding challenges of transgender children and their parents

March 21, 2014
Amy Przeworski, assistant professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University, and graduate student Jennifer Birnkrant will lead an online study that captures the experiences of transgender and gender variant children ...

Recommended for you

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.