Is your company prepared in case of an emergency? If a fire starts, a tornado hits, or a toxic spill occurs, do you have a plan of evacuation that your entire staff is capable of carrying out? Are they even aware that there is a plan?
The Importance of Emergency Preparedness
Very few businesses have emergency plans in place for their staff. Maybe there is an “in case of emergency” sign somewhere, but have you pointed it out to your employees? An emergency can occur at any moment and to have a plan in place can curtail employee injuries, damages to the environment, and to your building.
Guidelines from FEMA
The Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA provides several areas where businesses can start to manage their emergency plan. These basic areas are:
By following these 5 guidelines, you can begin to build your company’s emergency evacuation plan. For companies with multiple locations, one template can serve as an outline for emergency information, however, each guide should include location details that are exclusive to that site.
Establishing a Plan
Each plan should outline the way in which you plan to handle possible disaster scenarios. At ready.gov they list common disaster situations as Hurricanes, Extreme Heat, Wildfires, Tornadoes, Flooding, Volcanoes, Active Shooter, Nuclear Explosion, and Cyber Security. Obviously, you do not need to prepare for every single emergency situation possible. For example, if you are not in a state that has active volcanoes there is no need to have an evacuation plan. However, even if you’re not in Hawaii, California or Alaska there are still other states that have active volcanoes that you should be aware of, such as Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah to name a few.
To get started with your emergency preparedness plan, here a few key rules to consider. Each follows the areas identified by FEMA.
Build a Team
Gather a wide variety of employees to hash out possible disaster situations. Once you identify what constitutes an emergency, you can begin to prepare. This is also a time to figure out who your first responders are for each emergency situation.
Create A Notification System
We all grew up hearing that incessant alarm letting you know that a fire drill was taking place, and it was a bit of annoyance because you heard your principal over the intercom stating that a fire drill would be taking place during Second Period. Each emergency should come with their own system set in place and practiced so that each employee knows where to go in each situation. For example, in the case of a fire, you need to head outside, and in case of a tornado, you need to move to low ground, etc.
Establish A Chain of Command
In the case of a workplace emergency, such as when you are dealing with toxic chemicals, there should be one person who is in charge of notifying the staff of a spill. In case that person is absent or injured by the spill, there should be someone else listed as the next in line to spread the word, and so on and so forth.
Fire departments find the best possible evacuation route for any building in their area. Your employees should be aware of this route, and if not, the local fire department is always available to train new employees.
Fire Extinguisher Training
In case of a fire, proper handling and technique of a fire extinguisher is a key element to ensure the safety of your employees and facility. While your local firefighters create a perfect evacuation route, ask them to also demonstrate the correct way to handle a fire extinguisher.
Post Evacuation Steps
After an evacuation, it is important to know that all of your employees have made it out safely. The best way to be sure of this is to have a designated area for all evacuated employees to report to.
Handling Medical Emergencies
In case of a medical emergency dial 911. Once 911 is dialed and help is on the way, there are ways to care for your ailing employee. Be sure that your first aid kit is stocked and ready-to-go. Other precautions you could take include having your employees certified by the Red Cross for CPR. In case of heart attack, automated external defibrillators should be on-premise.
Remember that having a plan is only the beginning. Training all staff for emergency situations should be done at least twice a year. Being prepared for an emergency that you hope will never come may just be the difference between life and death, while resulting in an overall safer work environment.