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!