Is your company prepared for an emergency? Emergencies can range from a flood, fire, workplace violence, earthquake to a pandemic illness. Every responsible company strives for a safe working environment, but no matter how seriously your company views workplace safety, disasters and employee illnesses and injuries may occur. Developing a preparedness plan will assist you in ensuring the safety and well being of your employees while keeping the business running (where possible) in the face of an emergency.
I was recently at a client when the fire alarm went off. It seems we’re all seasoned to assume it’s a drill, so everyone sat at their desks working and ignoring the blaring sound. Luckily they had good procedures in place so the First Responders walked around and quickly told everyone it was not a drill and we evacuated appropriately. Had they not had these First Responders in place, it might have had a different outcome. Luckily, once we waited outside for a few minutes, we were allowed back inside… no fire!
Emergency Action Plans
Emergency action plans spell out how employers and employees should respond to emergencies. Whenever possible, the procedures should be developed as a series of checklists that can be accessed quickly by senior management, department heads, response personnel, and employees. OSHA suggests a plan that includes:
- emergency escape procedures and route assignments;
- pre-evacuation procedures to be followed by employees who remain to perform or shut down critical operations;
- post-evacuation procedures to account for all employees;
- rescue and medical duties for designated employees;
- reporting methods for fires and other emergencies; and
- contact information, including the names or regular job titles of people or departments that can provide further information or explanation of duties under the plan.
Proper emergency planning can minimize injuries and property damage. The OSHA publication “How to Prepare for Workplace Emergencies” offers guidelines for planning for emergencies.