Concerning communications with families and fellow employees of the 33 men trapped in the mine collapse, many considerations need to be made. Care needs to be taken when relaying such news. In this event, there are many unknowns, such as the cause, the future of the operation, and primarily the condition of the men inside. The needs of the parties involved, families, friends, and co-workers will differ to some extent and therefore, the approach will change for each. Considerations to remember are the specific concerns of the parties involved and how those concerns progress.
In the case of the families, initial concerns will be of the condition of their loved ones. Unfortunately, in this particular case, the condition of the trapped workers was unknown for more than two weeks. Regardless, the nature of the news would necessitate the presence of some sort of a counselor. Historically, with accidents of this nature, rescue was not an option. Yang (2010) reports that, “Half a century ago, trapped miners were considered lost causes. A caved-in mine would simply be sealed off and crosses would be hammered into the ground. Shortly after the Mina San Jose collapse on Thursday, Aug. , miners in the area were already placing wooden crosses outside its entrance, some hung with helmets and miners’ lamps” (paras. 6 & 7). Initial concerns of condition would give way to concerns of the livelihood of the family following potential death of the family member and then, in the case of surviving the accident, the safety of the family member upon return to the workplace. Potential needs of the family will include grief support, continued counseling, and, perhaps, monetary compensation for lost time, wages, etc. For fellow employees, the concerns and potential needs will differ slightly.
The initial concerns will likely be for the wellbeing of the trapped workers as well. This will quickly be replaced, however, by questions and concerns for the employees’ own wellbeing. As was stated earlier, rescues in these situations were, until recently, unheard of. As with the families, counseling will need to be made available. This counseling can come in the form of psychiatrists, psychologists, or even peer support groups. While individual counseling is an option, group counseling and question and answer sessions will likely be most helpful.
The employees will need some time off to grieve as well as some time, with proper counseling, to transition back to the work environment. Before delivering the communications, I would choose an appropriate setting. For the families, I would relay the message one family at a time in a private setting. I would request the presence of a counselor and a representative from the human resources department to answer any questions that may arise. I would speak to the employees as a group. I would also have counselors and HR representatives available for questions.
In both cases, I would insist on continued sessions with counselors to track the progress of the affected families and employees and ensure delivery of the message. The concerns of the involved parties will be different. The method by which the news is relayed to those parties will vary. The common thread is that the news is potentially devastating and special care and considerations must be made when delivering said news. Wounds will heal, but it will take time and specialized help to facilitate the healing process and those needs must be accommodated. References Yang, J. 2010). From collapse to rescue: Inside the Chile mine rescue. Retrieved from http://www. thestar. com/news/world/chile/article/873382–from-collapse-to-rescue-inside-the-chile-mine-disaster Communication to the families of the trapped miners, delivered face-to-face, in private, accompanied by a counselor and a designated representative from Human Resources. “As I’m sure you are by now fully aware, there has been an incident at our facility. A mine shaft, which was occupied at the time, has caved-in. We have confirmed that _______ was in fact one of the workers involved.
Unfortunately, at this time, we are unaware of the condition of any of the men who were working at the time of the collapse. We are hopeful that the men were able to find refuge in adjacent areas that were not affected. As we speak, new shafts are being drilled in an attempt to establish communications with any survivors. Our number one priority is finding those men and commencing a rescue operation. We will be utilizing all available resources. In the meantime, company appointed counselors and representatives will be available to help you in any way they can. Internal news release to the company, delivered face-to-face, as a group, accompanied by a counselors and a designated representatives from Human Resources. “On Thursday August 5th, 2010, there was a cave in at the San Jose mine. 33 workers are trapped inside. Their condition is unknown. Due to the nature of the collapse, the mine entrance is impassable. We are initiating plans to drill ventilation shafts in an attempt to contact the buried workers. We are hopeful that the men were able to find refuge in adjacent areas of the mine.
Food and water supplies are limited, so there is precious little time to make contact and furnish supplies to any survivors. Therefore, we must conduct these operations as quickly and efficiently as possible. We will gladly accept help from any of you who feel compelled to be involved. Following any rescue operations, a full scale cause and prevention analysis will be conducted to ensure the future safety of our workers. We understand that this is a traumatic situation and will have counselors and company representatives on hand to assist you in any way they can. ”