WHAT IS A WORKPLACE EMERGENCY?
A workplace emergency is an unforeseen situation that threatens your employees, customers, or the public; disrupts or shuts down your operations; or causes physical or environmental damage. Emergencies may be natural or manmade and include the following:
- Radiological Accidents
- Civil Disturbances, And
- Toxic Gas Releases
- Chemical Spills
- Workplace Violence Resulting In Bodily Harm And Trauma.
Nobody expects an emergency or disaster — especially one that affects them, their employees, and their business personally. Yet the simple truth is that emergencies and disasters can strike anyone, anytime, and anywhere. You and your employees could be forced to evacuate your company when you least expect it.
HOW DO YOU PROTECT YOURSELF, YOUR EMPLOYEES, AND YOUR BUSINESS?
The best way is to prepare to respond to an emergency before it happens. Few people can think clearly and logically in a crisis, so it is important to do so in advance, when you have time to be thorough. Brainstorm the worst-case scenarios. Ask yourself what you would do if the worst happened. What if a fire broke out in your boiler room? Or a hurricane hit your building head-on? Or a train carrying hazardous waste derailed while passing your loading dock? Once you have identified potential emergencies, consider how they would affect you and your workers and how you would respond.
WHAT IS AN EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN?
An emergency action plan covers designated actions employers and employees must take to ensure employee safety from fire and other emergencies. Not all employers are required to establish an emergency action plan. Even if you are not specifically required to do so, compiling an emergency action plan is a good way to protect yourself, your employees, and your business during an emergency. Putting together a comprehensive emergency action plan that deals with all types of issues specific to your worksite is not difficult. You may find it beneficial to include your management team and employees in the process. Explain your goal of protecting lives and property in the event of an emergency, and ask for their help in establishing and implementing your emergency action plan. Their commitment and support are critical to the plan’s success. What should your emergency action plan include? When developing your emergency action plan, it’s a good idea to look at a wide variety of potential emergencies that could occur in your workplace. It should be tailored to your worksite and include information about all potential sources of emergencies. Developing an emergency action plan means you should do a hazard assessment to determine what, if any, physical or chemical hazards in your workplaces could cause an emergency. If you have more than one worksite, each site should have an emergency action plan.
At A Minimum, Your Emergency Action Plan Must Include The Following:
- A preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies;
- An evacuation policy and procedure;
- Emergency escape procedures and route assignments, such as floor plans, workplace maps, and safe or refuge areas;
- Names, titles, departments, and telephone numbers of individuals both within and outside your company to contact for additional information or explanation of duties and responsibilities under the emergency plan;
- Procedures for employees who remain to perform or shut down critical plant operations, operate fire extinguishers, or perform other essential services that cannot be shut down for every emergency alarm before evacuating;
- Rescue and medical duties for any workers designated to perform them.
- The site of an alternative communications center to be used in the event of a fire or explosion;
- A secure on- or offsite location to store originals or duplicate copies of accounting records, legal documents, your employees’ emergency contact lists, and other essential records.
You also may want to consider designating an assembly location and procedures to account for all employees after an evacuation.
How Do You Alert Employees To An Emergency?
Your plan must include a way to alert employees, including disabled workers, to evacuate or take other action, and how to report emergencies, as required.
The steps you must take are the following:
- Make sure alarms are distinctive and recognized by all employees as a signal to evacuate the work area or perform actions identified in your plan;
- Make available an emergency communications system such as a public address system, portable radio unit, or other means to notify employees of the emergency and to contact local law enforcement, the fire department, and others;
- Stipulate that alarms must be able to be heard, seen, or otherwise perceived by everyone in the workplace. You might want to consider providing an auxiliary power supply in the event that electricity is shut off.
You also may want to consider the following:
- Using tactile devices to alert employees who would not otherwise be able to recognize an audible or visual alarm;
- Providing an updated list of key personnel such as the plant manager or physician, in order of priority, to notify in the event of an emergency during off-duty hours.
HOW DO YOU DEVELOP AN EVACUATION POLICY AND PROCEDURES?
A disorganized evacuation can result in confusion, injury, and property damage. That is why when developing your emergency action plan, it is important to determine the following:
- Conditions under which an evacuation would be necessary;
- A clear chain of command and designation of the person in your business authorized to order an evacuation or shutdown. You may want to designate an “evacuation warden” to assist others in an evacuation and to account for personnel;
- Specific evacuation procedures, including routes and exits. Post these procedures where they are easily accessible to all employees;
- Procedures for assisting people with disabilities or who do not speak English;
- Designation of what, if any, employees will continue or shut down critical operations during an evacuation. These people must be capable of recognizing when to abandon the operation and evacuate themselves; and
- A system for accounting for personnel following an evacuation. Consider employees’ transportation needs for community-wide evacuations.
Under What Conditions Should You Call For An Evacuation?
In the event of an emergency, local emergency officials may order you to evacuate your premises. In some cases, they may instruct you to shut off the water, gas, and electricity. If you have access to radio or television, listen to newscasts to keep informed and follow whatever official orders you receive. In other cases, a designated person within your business should be responsible for making the decision to evacuate or shut down operations. Protecting the health and safety of everyone in the facility should be the first priority. In the event of a fire, an immediate evacuation to a predetermined area away from the facility is the best way to protect employees. On the other hand, evacuating employees may not be the best response to an emergency such as a toxic gas release at a facility across town from your business. The type of building you work in may be a factor in your decision. Most buildings are vulnerable to the effects of disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, or explosions. The extent of the damage depends on the type of emergency and the building’s construction. Modern factories and office buildings, for example, are framed in steel and are structurally sounder than neighborhood business premises may be. In a disaster such as a major earthquake or explosion, however, nearly every type of structure will be affected. Some buildings will collapse and others will be left with weakened floors and walls.
To help you plan and execute compliance in Emergencies and Evacuations, Rcl Industrial Safety Centre have created a comprehensive Health, Safety and Enivronment roadmap to help you achieve your goals.
At RCL Industrial Safety Centre these training is also available in different Nigerian languages like PIDGIN,YORUBA,HAUSA AND IGBO and also You can get to register on any safety training from RCL Industrial Safety Centre through this link www.safetycentre.ng/training_register
Our company (RCL Industrial Safety Centre) is an indigenous company dedicated to Health, Safety and Environment Training and Services.
We are technical partners of the National Industrial Safety Council of Nigeria (NISCN) as well as approved training partners of most major International Occupational Safety and Health organizations like NEBOSH, and corporate members of ISPON (Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria) with thousands of personnel trained in various areas till date.
If you’ve any questions or concerns about compliance or e-learning, please get in touch.
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