Column: Workers' Comp

PTSD: Cure and Coverage

By: | April 9, 2018 • 2 min read
Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at [email protected] Read more of his columns and features.

Yet another mass school shooting targeting children, this time one that claimed 17 lives at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — has generated discourse about post-traumatic stress disorder in surviving students, educators and first responders.

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As the discussion expands, debate will likely include broader questions. Should PTSD be compensable for first responders? Will employees who witness co-workers die or get maimed in other horrific workplace accidents be covered? Their risk is just as great.

I want to add to the discourse on PTSD by sharing a personal story, and that of a workers’ comp colleague. We both believe we benefited from a treatment endorsed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for its effectiveness in treating PTSD.

The colleague, an RN, working as an occupational nurse, tried to save a co-worker’s life by administering CPR for 8 minutes. She also administered epinephrine after an allergic reaction closed off the co-worker’s airway.

Neither worked and arriving paramedics couldn’t save her. She turned blue and slipped away.

Memories of seeing the dying woman’s face and her pleas for her life haunted my colleague. She dreamed about not reaching the co-worker in time. She worried excessively that something would happen to her children, and she wouldn’t be there.

It’s not an entirely unique story. The Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 5,190 work-related deaths in 2016, the third consecutive spike in annual workplace fatalities.

Co-workers surely witnessed plenty of those tragedies. The Department of Labor reports that “critical-incident” witnesses may suffer from fear, guilt and chronic anxiety among other physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral symptoms.

Memories of seeing the dying woman’s face and her pleas for her life haunted my colleague. She dreamed about not reaching the co-worker in time. She worried excessively that something would happen to her children, and she wouldn’t be there.

Fortunately my colleague benefited from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. EMDR is efficient, because it can help ease distressful memories after just a few sessions.

She sensed improvement after two sessions and underwent about six.

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I first benefited from EMDR applied to treat trauma experienced as a child. I am now better able to manage situations that previously caused unnecessary stress.

EMDR dampens the impact of negative emotions. A therapist guides a patient to recall and reprocess traumatic events while focusing on a back and forth movement or sound.

A few months after witnessing my wife pass away, I turned to EMDR to help soften the jagged edges those memories generate. They are still unpleasant memories, but not as rough.

Some comp payers fear that paying for such treatment could lead to a protracted psych claim.

But helping employees who witness workplace deaths is the right thing to do, especially when an efficient treatment is available, and their future productivity and attention to safety practices may depend on it. &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

As a professor of business, Jack Hampton knows firsthand the positive impact education has on risk managers as they tackle growing risks.
By: | April 9, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

Ellen Thrower, president (retired), The College of Insurance, introduced me to the importance of insurance as a component of risk management. Further, she encouraged me to explore strategic and operational risk as foundation topics shaping the role of the modern risk manager.

Chris Mandel, former president of RIMS and Risk Manager of the Year, introduced me to the emerging area of enterprise risk management. He helped me recognize the need to align hazard, strategic, operational and financial risk into a single framework. He gave me the perspective of ERM in a high-tech environment, using USAA as a model program that later won an excellence award for innovation.

Bob Morrell, founder and former CEO of Riskonnect, showed me how technology could be applied to solving serious risk management and governance problems. He created a platform that made some of my ideas practical and extended them into a highly-successful enterprise that served risk and governance management needs of major corporations.

R&I: How did you come to work in this industry?

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From a background in corporate finance and commercial banking, I accepted the position of provost of The College of Insurance. Recognizing my limited prior knowledge in the field, I became a student of insurance and risk management leading to authorship of books on hazard and financial risk. This led to industry consulting, as well as to the development of graduate-level courses and concentrations in MBA programs.

R&I: What was your first job?

The provost position was the first job I had in the industry, after serving as dean of the Seton Hall University School of Business and founding The Princeton Consulting Group. Earlier positions were in business development with Marine Transport Lines, consulting in commercial banking and college professorships.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Creating a risk management concentration in the MBA program at Saint Peter’s, co-founding the Russian Risk Management Society (RUSRISK), and writing “Fundamentals of Enterprise Risk Management” and the “AMA Handbook of Financial Risk Management.”

A few years ago, I expanded into risk management in higher education. From 2017 into 2018, Rowman and Littlefield published my four books that address risks facing colleges and universities, professors, students and parents.

Jack Hampton, Professor of Business, St. Peter’s University

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

The Godfather. I see it as a story of managing risk, even as the behavior of its leading characters create risk for others.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Jameson’s Irish whiskey. Mixed with a little ice, it is a serious rival for Johnny Walker Gold scotch and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Mount Etna, Taormina, and Agrigento, Sicily. I actually supervised an MBA program in Siracusa and learned about risk from a new perspective.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

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Army Airborne training and jumping out of an airplane. Fortunately, I never had to do it in combat even though I served in Vietnam.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

George C. Marshall, one of the most decorated military leaders in American history, architect of the economic recovery program for Europe after World War II, and recipient of the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize. For Marshall, it was not just about winning the war. It was also about winning the peace.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

Sharing lessons with colleagues and students by writing, publishing and teaching. A professor with a knowledge of risk management does not only share lessons. The professor is also a student when MBA candidates talk about the risks they manage every day.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

Sensitizing for-profit, nonprofit and governmental agencies to the exposures and complexities facing their organizations. Sometimes we focus too much on strategies that sound good but do not withstand closer examination. Risk managers help organizations make better decisions.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

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Developing executive training programs to help risk managers assume C-suite positions in organizations. Insurance may be a good place to start but so is an MBA degree. The Risk and Insurance Management Society recognizes the importance of a wide range of risk knowledge. Colleges and universities need to catch up with RIMS.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

Cyber risk and its impact on hazard, operational and financial strategies. A terrorist can take down a building. A cyber-criminal can take down much more.

R&I: What does your family think you do?

My family members think I’m a professor. They do not seem to be too interested in my views on risk management.




Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]