The purpose of this paper is to examine the federal, state, and/or local legislation or policies that have been enacted or created to address/ change vicarious trauma.
Although posttraumatic stress theory has been extensively developed in the psychological and medical literature in the last decade, development of vicarious trauma theory or what the literature refers to as secondary traumatization is in its infancy. To date, there is minimal information on policies or legislation that helps address this issue.
The occupational health, safety and welfare Policy and the Critical incident Debriefing Policy are two federal policies that address the prevention of vicarious trauma. Research suggests that vicarious trauma is an “occupational hazard, which is an unavoidable result of undertaking working with survivors of trauma” (Perlman and Saakvitne, 1995). The Occupational health and safety act (OSHA) was introduced by congress in the early 1960’s to protect workers from being exposed to chemicals and life threatening working conditions. With the passing of the act in 1971 congress declared its intent "to ensure so far as possible every working man and woman in the nation a safe and healthy working conditions and to preserve our human resources”( Muss,1993 p. 39). With the growing number of work place stressors and the decline in work place performance, this has a great impact on the organizations revenue. Congress demanded change, therefore in 1986 , the Occupational Health and Safety Act was revised to include section nineteen. Section nineteen of ( OHSA) requires “ that all employers provide a safe working environment and this applies to all areas including the employee’s mental health and well being”(Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Policy ,1986).
The states response to the Occupational Health and Safety policy was to mandate that every agency adopt an Employee Assistance Program ( EAP ) to assist there employees. “ EAP’s date back to the early 1940’s , and the focus was to assist industrial factory workers with alcohol dependency issues” ( Trice & Beyer, 1985). In the 1970s ,” EAP’s were broadened from an alcohol-exclusive focus to addressing any personal or family concern that affected job performance.”(Roman, 1981). EAP’s are worksite-based or contracted programs designed to profit both employers and employees. “EAPs help businesses and organizations address productivity issues by helping employees identify and resolve personal concerns that affect job performance”(Attridge,2001). Beard (2001) believes “through prevention, identification, and resolution of these issues, EAPs enhance employee and workplace effectiveness and are a vital tool for maintaining and improving worker health and productivity, retaining valued employees, and returning employees to work after illnesses or injuries” (p.118). Employee Assistance programs, are available to employees and their dependents. They provide assistance with issues concerning ...