Preparing Your Facility for Any Emergency

Fire Truck

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Now that Spring has finally arrived, with it comes the potential for severe weather. It’s important to make sure your workers have all the safety training they need to respond to any emergency situation, whether it is a fire, severe weather, a bomb threat or any other disastrous event.

Providing the appropriate training can mean costly downtime, however. So a good balance is to provide safety training for your employees in smaller groups and to schedule mandatory training either before or after their scheduled shift.  While it may cost you a little more in labor, the investment is worth it if it saves lives and property in the event of a real emergency.

Having an Emergency Action Plan

The starting point is to have an emergency action plan. This can be developed either by management or safety committee that is composed of a combination of management and line-level employees.

At a minimum, your emergency action plan should include the following safety protocols:

  • A way for any employee to report fires or other emergencies clearly and efficiently
  • An evacuation policy and procedure
  • Emergency escape protocols and route assignments. This includes such things as posted floor  plans, facility maps, and safe or refuge areas
  • A list of names, titles, departments and telephone numbers of all employees and another list of emergency contacts
  • A list of people within your company and outsiders to contact for additional information or explanation of duties and responsibilities under the emergency plan
  • Procedures that should be followed in the event of an emergency, including shut-down of equipment, operation of fire extinguishers, and other essential services that need to be performed
  • Rescue and medical duties for those employees designated for special services in the event of an emergency

There also should be an area designated outside of the facility for employees to assemble should an emergency occur. This can be something like a parking lot or a nearby field or park. Directing employees to a centralized location will make it easier for management to determine who may still be missing after the event.

Duplicate Copies of Essential Information

Optional requirements include the site of an alternate communications center that can be used in the event of a fire or explosion, and a secure on- or off-site location to store duplicate copies of critical information such as employee lists, emergency contacts and other essential information.

Emergency drills — such as fire drills and procedures to follow in the event of a tornado, for example — should be included in new employee orientation and reviewed on a regular basis during departmental meetings and annual mandatory training refreshers.

If possible, you can schedule property-wide emergency drills annually. If this is not practical, perhaps these drills can be performed separately by shift or department. At the very least, employees should review where they should go and what they should do in the event of an actual emergency.

If a real emergency occurs, local safety officials may order you to evacuate your facility. In some cases, they may also instruct you to shut down the water, gas and electricity. There should always be somebody on site who knows how to do this.

Planning for an emergency is serious business. But having inadequate planning or emergency training could put you out of business.


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