GERMANY: The importance of reporting traumatic events at work

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A colleague falls off a ladder. A nurse is stopped and threatened. A train driver hits a cyclist crossing the tracks at high speed. These incidents can cause trauma and feelings of fear, powerlessness and guilt. They need to be reported in order to provide support for those affected.

“Employers have two options for reporting a traumatic event, explains the statutory accident insurer, the accident report or an informal report”. The accident report is compulsory if the employee is unfit for work for more than three days after the accident. For students, any accident that requires medical treatment must be reported.

It is important that people affected by traumatic events, including witnesses, receive benefits quickly. Accident insurance organisations must be informed so that they can take action, even if there is no incapacity for work. Informal reporting (by telephone or in writing) by people affected by traumatic events is therefore strongly recommended, although not compulsory. Informal reporting, with the consent of the person concerned, is useful when psychosocial support is needed after an accident at work. The employer must make the report, but insured persons can also contact their accident insurer if necessary.

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