According to the ESS Safety Program Guide (2009), It is important to make a distinction between the concepts of worker care and worker safety. Both concepts are crucial and are interconnected. ESS responders (workers) may jeopardize the safety of co-workers if they are making decisions while psychologically stressed or mentally fatigued. Hence, worker care needs to be managed simultaneously with worker safety and with equal diligence during ESS operations. Worker safety will be addressed in Module 3 of this course.
ESS responders may be exposed directly or indirectly to heartbreaking devastation and loss, and to the related stress and trauma. How responders react to these emotional demands depend on several variables including:
- The circumstances of the disaster
- The nature of the response environment and their role
- Their level of preparedness
- Any pre-existing personal stressors or trauma
Even experienced responders may at times feel overwhelmed and experience difficult stress reactions during or after the response.
The Safety Officer implements worker care measures to ensure safety for evacuees and responders in the RC, however, the RC Manager is responsible for worker welfare and worker care at a RC, as is the EOC Director in the EOC. Ultimately, it is the response organization or agency’s responsibility to see to the physical and emotional well being of their responders, however, all ESS responders are to be aware and look out for each other.