If you sustained your burn injury on the job, it is natural to have some fears about returning to this same place of injury. It is important that you address these fears. Avoiding returning to work or being reassigned to a different area will only make your fears stronger. There are several things that you can do to prepare to return to work where you were injured:
- Some people find it comforting to know that the accident was taken seriously. Most places of employment will have an accident investigation, either through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or their own investigation, to determine the cause of the accident and try to prevent it from happening again. You may want to request a copy of the investigation report and meet with your supervisor to determine how to prevent this type of accident.
- It is helpful to visit your place of employment (even if it is a brief visit) before your official day of return. During this visit you can say hello to coworkers, address the inevitable questions that come up, and get used to being back at the work site.
- If you are having nightmares or flashbacks of the actual accident and other symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), it is extremely important for you to work with a therapist trained in this disorder to prepare you to return to work. A counselor will often have you create a “fear hierarchy” that gradually exposes you to less-threatening situations while teaching you skills to manage your anxiety as the exposure gets more intense. It is very common to return to work while you are having symptoms of PTSD. These symptoms may take time to resolve. Returning to work with support systems in place will actually hasten your overall recovery.