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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has revised its National Emphasis Program (NEP) for COVID-19. The agency launched the NEP on March 12, 2021, to focus on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus, and on employers that engage in retaliation against employees who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions or exercise other rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

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National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is held every September as an important reminder to all that natural and man-made disasters can happen anytime. Having a planned response is critical for your safety, no matter if you are at home, at work or anywhere. Our last blog focused on having a strategic evacuation plan in place for those emergencies when you need to exit the facility.

Even though a large majority of emergencies may indeed mean vacating the area, let’s talk about medical emergencies. Work-related accidents or medical emergencies require an immediate response. There are many types of medical emergencies, which could include but definitely not limited to heart attacks, choking, strokes, seizures, falls, burns, and cuts. It is important to prepare for all types of medical emergencies that can happen in a workplace and have a designated group of employees trained to assist – sometimes referred to as designated first aiders.

Three C’s: Medical Emergency Initial Response
• Check over the injured individual to access what type of medical emergency
• Call 911, so that emergency life support and help will arrive as soon as possible
• Care: those designated as first aiders in the workplace should provide relevant medical emergency care

All employers should have some basic supplies and resources available for medical emergencies, including the following:
• Keep a fully stocked, accessible first aid kit
• Offer CPR certification and seizure training opportunities to your employees
• Equip the facility with and train employees in the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator)

Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress. Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illnesses and injuries.

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This year’s Brake Safety Week is scheduled for Aug. 22-28. During Brake Safety Week, commercial motor vehicle inspectors emphasize the importance of brake systems by conducting inspections and removing commercial motor vehicles found to have brake-related out-of-service violations from our roadways.

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Unexpected emergencies can happen at any time! Anything from a natural disaster, a toxic chemical spill, an active shooter incident or a fallen sick team member – all can happen while at work, so it’s extremely important employees know how to respond quickly.

September is National Preparedness Month. Preparing for any type of emergency ahead of time ensures your team has the necessary equipment, knows what to do and where to go – and just knows how to keep themselves safe.

As we know, there are so many emergencies that can happen. We will focus on those emergencies where it is deemed as important to vacate the building. In these situations, it is extremely important to have a strategic evacuation plan. Establishing an emergency planning team within your organization to identify and prepare for “worst-case” scenarios is a good rule of thumb – and making sure there are written policies for all employees to read and sign off on. The emergency plan should at least include the following:

  • Emergency notification systems – make sure messages are able to reach everyone; keeping in mind those who may not speak or understand English well and those with disabilities
  • Chain of command – make sure there is a plan in place for who is assigned to send the notifications, as well as who will take the place of these workers if they are not available to complete that task
  • Evacuation routes – train your staff in proper evacuation procedure; everyone needs to know how to evacuate safely and quickly
  • Responder protocols – make sure you have some employees who have had extensive safety training be assigned to make sure operations are shut down safely and everyone is out of the building
  • Post-evacuation protocol – designate a meeting area for all employees, so there is a way to verify that everyone made it out safely; keep in mind non-employees as well that might have been in your facility

As we discussed in an earlier blog about workplace safety culture, it starts at the top. Employers must commit to creating safe workplace conditions and ensuring safe work interactions. Setting the tone that safety is a priority in your organization is key to keeping your most important assets – your employees – safe and healthy!

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