Keywords: burnout, accident investigators, occupational safety and health, job stress
A study of burnout in accident investigators in the US mining industry
The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) was administered and scored for 154 Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) employees from the US Department of Labour. These employees serve as accident investigators for serious accidents and fatalities as part of their job duties. During a workshop on stress designed for them, subjects volunteered anonymous written anecdotes, confirming and illustrating the findings. The subjects represented locations across the USA and all mining commodities coal, metal, non-metal, stone, and sand and gravel. The Maslach Burnout Inventory assesses three aspects of experienced burnout emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and reduced personal accomplishments. The average results of the scores for each of the three subscales for the study group of MSHA accident investigators fell in the moderate range. These scores show that the subject population was at some risk for emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation, tending toward burnout. The group evidenced a lower sense of personal accomplishment in their jobs, indicating a higher risk for burnout. From this outcome, accident investigators may be at moderate (note this does not mean average) risk for burnout. The authors recommend follow-up with this population, specifically in training to work with grieving families, and greater organisational support for the accident investigators in this area would be appropriate.