In the United States, workplace emergency preparedness is of utmost importance. All employers must comply with their disaster preparedness policies, as well as State and or Federal Laws that stipulate guidelines for workplace disaster preparedness. Employers must draft and implement workplace emergency preparedness plans, and inform their employees of the measures in place, as well as incident reporting and other courses of action protocols. Auditing in emergency management settings refers to a process that is carried out by independent auditors, trained employees of a workplace, and or OSH officials to establish the level of emergency preparedness of a work environment. The results of an audit should reveal the degree of efficiency of security measures undertaken by the employer in the workplace. Emergency preparedness gaps, picked by the audit, must be pointed out, and recommendations given by the auditors.
Emergency management settings audit: The process
The audit process involves various processes that include preparation, evaluation of necessary emergency preparedness policies, physical assessment of a workplace for the presence of implemented policy-stipulated measurements, analysis of audit findings, as well as compilation of comprehensive reports. Audit reports must be presented to relevant authorities for appropriate course of action. Each inspection step must be carried out with the utmost expertise, tools and integrity as a hitch in any of the processes can compromise the entire audit, and, therefore, the emergency preparedness of a workplace.
Preparing and executing an audit
Auditors and other professionals, entrusted with evaluating the emergency preparedness of a workplace, must define the scope, plan, criteria, staffs, tools, and aim of the audit before they embark on the actual audit. The audit process should start with the verification of the existence of various preparedness policies such as State/ Federal Law (OSH and H&S) or the employer’s injury prevention plan. Against the present documents, auditors should check the presence of the implemented measures, as well as try to identify potential risk areas/ conditions that may not be listed on the disaster management plans. The audit should check not only the presence of emergency preparedness measures implemented in a workplace, but also their efficiency in mitigating potential disasters.
Audit findings, analysis, reporting, and recommendations
Auditors must, in their reports to the relevant authorities, list their findings (raw data), an analysis of the findings (hence the meaning and implication of those findings), and their recommended course of action that can improve work environment emergency preparedness. The audit reports must be shared with the employers and other relevant parties. Employers must have a copy of the audit report so that they can implement suggested preparedness measures and increase the well being of their employees. Other parties, such as OSHA, must have the audit reports in order to enforce and follow up on the recommended solutions.
Roles of auditors and other professionals in maintaining safe and prepared work environments
The State and Federal Laws on workplace emergency preparedness (established and enforced by OSHA) require all employers to have emergency preparedness audits conducted by trained employees, OSHA staffs and or independent auditors. The role of independent auditors may differ slightly with that of other professionals who work in the place they audit, but overall, their roles are more or less the same. Studying threat exposure, recommending and drafting disaster/ risk/ accident prevention and mitigation measures, establishing chain of incident report and communication, as well as establishing guidelines for course of action in the event of an emergency situation in the work environment, comprise some of the roles auditors professionals play in keeping workplaces safe.
Threat and preparedness assessment
Auditors are endowed with the key task of evaluating a work place’s disaster preparedness status. These professionals must check whether employers have disaster preparedness plans/ policies, which must be documented and approved by the H&S and OSHA. Every employer must have clearly outlined communication channels and trained employees. In addition to checking for stipulated protocols and trained employees in a workplace, auditors must check for physical evidence of potential or existing conditions that can result in workplace hazards. All the findings of the audit must be documented, analyzed and reported accordingly.
Implementation, monitoring and evaluation of recommended solutions
In some instances, an auditor’s task does not end with his work environment audit report or recommendations. Some employers may employ auditors, or let their trained employees, oversee the implementation of the recommended solutions. The solutions might include the acquisition of protective gear for employees, installation of proper emergency preparedness equipments/ tools/ signs, employee training on essential emergency preparedness, establishment of communication protocols and disaster management committees, as well as any other measure that might be deemed necessary. As a workplace emergency preparedness perfection measure, auditors may be required to evaluate the efficiency of the implemented recommended solutions.
OSHA is tasked with the role of enforcing emergency preparedness measures in workplaces. All employers must have emergency preparedness plans, and highly effective disaster mitigation measures in their workplaces to make the environment safe for employees. Independent auditors must, from time to time, assess the efficiency of implemented emergency settings in every workplace, compile comprehensive reports and make recommendations that can improve the work environment’s emergency preparedness. Successful audits must be preceded by adequate preparation that should include the definition of the necessary parameters, tools, staffs, and processes. Comprehensive reports must be prepared and presented to the necessary authorities within a reasonable time after the audit so that necessary recommendations can be followed up as soon as possible.
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