• industrial disaster;
  • trauma;
  • coping;
  • social support;
  • exposure;
  • training;
  • rescue work

An explosion in a Danish supertanker under construction in 1994 caused the death of six workers and injured 15. Six months later 270 workers took part in this study, which analyses the relationships between objective stressors, the workers' own feelings and the reactions of their families after the explosion together with training, attitude to the workplace, general outlook, and received crisis help. Traumatisation, coping style and crisis support was assessed via the Impact of Event Scale (IES), the Coping Styles Questionnaire (CSQ) and the Crisis Support Scale (CSS). Emotionally, workers and their families were strongly affected by the explosion. The IES-score was 17.6 and the invasion score 9.1. The degree of traumatisation was higher in the group who had an ‘audience position’ than in the group who was directly hit by the explosion. Training in rescue work did not protect against adverse effects. Rescue work had a strong impact on the involved. Social support was a significant factor, that seems to buffer negative effects. High level of social integration, effective leadership in the situation, and professional crisis intervention characterised the disaster situation. All the same, 41 per cent of the workers reached the caseness criteria by Horowitz (IES ≥ 19).