Article by Claire Branchereau - Current / HSE

The November attacks have left their mark on companies, including on their health and safety policy. Some continue to seek advice from specialized firms, whether they are directly concerned by the risk of terrorism or whether they are looking to prepare for it with a clear head.

Three months after the Paris attacks, many companies are still struggling with the events. Even more than ever. Because it is necessary to prepare and supervise the return to work of an employee directly affected, because the post-traumatic stress of some is likely to manifest itself in the months to come... "It starts now", for Claude de Scorraille , occupational psychologist and president of Lact, a firm specializing in psychological support. There are also companies "not spontaneously exposed to the risk of terrorism, but who say to themselves that it can happen, that they can be impacted directly or indirectly", adds David Mahé, president of Stimulus (see our article). Within their respective firms, each is in contact with ten to twenty companies seeking assistance on the subject.

Awareness workshops

In the aftermath of the November 13 attacks, Lact and Stimulus say they have been solicited by all kinds of structures, from the insurance, mass distribution, media, hospital sectors... They say they have seen set up a few hotlines but more often than not, they intervened to animate psychological cells for employees (see our article). "Some companies have also organized voluntary workshops to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder, which have proven to be extremely effective," says Claude de Scoraille. And for those less directly concerned? David Mahé cites the example of a "big bank" which has made documentation available to its employees on this syndrome, but also on the procedure to follow in the event of a new "serious event". “Some companies took advantage of the November events to question their practices and put in place procedures that they did not have before,” he continues.

Prepare without psychosis

Before embarking on a possible approach, for Claude de Scoraille companies must first "ask themselves whether the question of terrorism makes sense in relation to their activity". “There is a big tension around this subject”, she notes, “if it is a question of anticipating just to anticipate, it is bad”. And conducive to psychosis, according to her. On the other hand, if the company considers itself potentially concerned by the risk of terrorism, then it can then "ask itself what its policy would be in the event of a serious event, what kind of crisis unit it would put in place, what communication...", advises the work psychologist. For David Mahé, companies must be a bit more operational, since it is in his view "to have a device ready to mobilize internally or externally" if an attack were to recur. This implies, for example, knowing upstream who is present in the company, who should contact whom... In short, knowing how the company organizes itself in such a scenario. "It's part of what you can do cold, and it allows the company to be ready", according to the president of Stimulus.

A risk like the others?

A little less cold, companies must also be "able to get involved via managers, to support the serious event", says David Mahé. By training the management – ​​even if he recognizes that "it is not the priority in terms of training" – and by giving them time to support the work collective. Should they therefore include the terrorist risk in their health and safety policy? Yes, replies the president of Stimulus, "if they want to be exemplary". However, he specifies that with "serious events", it is not necessarily only a question of terrorism. Claude de Scoraille is less categorical. "It's not a common occupational hazard," she recalls. Rather than integrating it into the company's health and safety policy, the occupational psychologist instead suggests that employers "give visibility to their position" on this risk. “They also need to know what limits to give to this position,” she warns. Because the terrorist risk implies, according to her, lending oneself to a "difficult game of balance" between two postures: "Taking into consideration the impact of the events on the employees, and at the same time not protecting them too much either so as not to weaken".