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Stressors in Forensic Organizations: Risks and solutions

NCJ Number
Forensic Science International: Synergy Volume: Online Dated: December 2021
Date Published
December 2021

This article presents several models and case studies that can help inform the creation of positive laboratory policies.



Stressors of many types occur in forensic laboratories, with detrimental effects for individuals, laboratory systems, and casework outcomes. These stressors may be general, affecting the entire laboratory or all cases, or specific, affecting individual examiners or single cases. Stressors affecting individual examiners include: vicarious trauma associated with details of worked cases, nonstandard working hours, fatigue, the monotony of repetitious tasks, fear of errors, and severe backlogs. Policies and laboratory cultures can be put in place to minimize the effects of stressors; however, current forensic organizational responses to these stressors may vary from punitive to collaborative approaches. A system of discipline-wide centralized error reporting, similar to systems used to reduce fatal mistakes in medicine and aviation, could have the potential to identify areas of concern within forensic science practices. (Publisher Abstract)

Date Published: December 1, 2021