Emergency Planning & Preparedness for Today’s Workplace

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Person pushing open an emergency exitThe Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Safety Council all provide valuable resources for safety professionals who seek to create robust and comprehensive emergency plans for their organization.

Emergency situations can include natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and earthquakes, as well as manmade crises like toxic gas releases, chemical spills, radioactive leaks, explosions, bomb threats, civil disturbances and workplace violence. Plans to address any of these scenarios should, at the very least, include provisions for:

Asset Protection

  • Determine a secure offsite location for data storage and backup so that your digital assets remain safe and accessible. This will make it easier to get back to business once the emergency is over.
  • Keep an inventory of all equipment and physical assets at your site, and ensure that you have proper insurance coverage for all essential items that could potentially need to be replaced.
  • Shore up your facility’s infrastructure if you are located in an area prone to extreme weather events such as earthquakes, tornadoes or hurricanes.
  • Identify an alternative location where you could relocate your basic business operations if the need should arise.

Worker Security

  • Deploy an alarm or public address system to warn employees of an emergency situation and the need to leave the premises or shelter in place.
  • Establish escape routes from all facility locations to the nearest exit or alternate exits if one or more should be blocked.
  • Devise procedures for safety team employees responsible for shutting down machinery and operation in the case of an emergency.
  • Know who is scheduled to work on any given day and have a designated meeting spot for employees so that you can take a roll call.

Emergency Communications

  • Alert the authorities immediately upon determining a need for medical, fire, rescue and recovery personal.
  • Identify a nearby location where you can set up an emergency communications and command center. This might be a school, police station, fire department or other public site.
  • Know who is in charge of talking to the media and alerting the public to any lingering danger or situational updates.
  • Ensure that you have a complete contact list for onsite and offsite company leaders, customers, suppliers and creditors, as well as all employees.
  • Have access to a list of approved vendors who have previously been vetted and are qualified to begin repair and cleanup work at your location.

Employee Training

  • Provide all employees with the fundamental training to understand escape routes and shelter-in-place procedures.
  • Identify, establish and train safety team personnel to serve on a fire brigade, HAZMAT team and/or emergency response team trained in basic first aid procedures including CPR.
  • Conduct worst-case-scenario tabletop exercises with your emergency management and safety teams.
  • Schedule various levels of drills to walk evacuation routes, practice functional responses (fire, HAZMAT), and full-scale exercises with local emergency responders.

Learn More

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