Employers are obligated to ensure the safety of their employees and business overall. Employers must provide training to their staff and have a set workplace emergency procedure to follow in case of earthquakes, fire, or other difficulties. Ideally, the workplace procedures are site-specific. The procedures are set considering the kind of work and the structure of the building. At the same time, we understand that it is not possible to prevent difficulties.
However, a proper plan and procedure to follow during such a situation can help control the damage to the workplace as well as to the staff. The disasters are easier to cope with when the people present in the workplace are all prepared. Therefore, ensure that the procedures are a part of the orientation program for new employees. If there are any changes or additions, the employees should be informed about them without any delay.
Types of Workplace Emergencies
A workplace difficulty could be in many forms. Some might be big enough to affect the wider community, while others might affect your work area. Following are the examples of some workplace emergencies:
Natural Emergencies or Disasters
Natural emergencies like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires are hard to predict and even harder to plan a safety procedure against. However, these calamities and disasters cause heavy damage to not only your workplace but also areas around you. Therefore, when planning a safety plan for natural exigencies, understand that logistic support might be delayed due to the very nature of the situation.
As the name suggests, some emergencies occur due to the nature of work. For example, a fire break-out in the chemical industry, chemical spill on employees causing burn injuries, machinery malfunction, and a harmful gas leak in many cases.
These situations include active assailants, serious medical issues, protests, etc. Though such emergencies are rarely found, they need to be catered to with diligence as and when they happen. You will need a strategy of action for such contingencies as well.
What is included in workplace emergency procedures?
Workplace emergency procedures include a well thought-after plan that everyone follows in case of exigencies. This plan has every nick of information needed to prevent damage to life and property, from first aid to logistic aid.
Install Alarm Systems
If you are the building owner, you should purchase and install an alarm system that will help detect any unusual activity occurring on the premises. Many companies also make detector systems that take information directly from the radio stations and alert the building inmates by ringing an alarm. In addition, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors are necessary for your office to get a notification about any danger in your area.
Maintain Your Emergency Equipment
Depending on the constitution of the work carried out in your office, you should have the protective gear and emergency equipment readily available. Emergency equipment is different from protective gears that you provide for daily use to your staff.
If you have a chemical-based industry, you need to have the emergency equipment ready to solve any mishaps caused by chemicals such as burn injuries, explosions, etc. The availability of fire-extinguishers, first-aid kits, and defibrillators is mandatory in every office regardless of the nature of the work.
Designate an open Assembly Area
In situations like fire break-out earthquakes or active assailants, you will need to evacuate the building. It would be best if you designated a safe area for employees to assemble there for a headcount and follow further instructions. Ideally, the assembly area should be vast, safe, and considerably open space. Every employee should know the road map to the assembly area by heart.
Establish a Command Chain
In case of emergencies, everyone should be aware of who is in charge of such a situation and whose instructions are to be followed. Establishing a chain of command helps in keeping things under control and simple. Multiple commands in exigencies only worsen the situation. Instead, you can have supervisors and managers, particularly for exigencies, who will look after the evacuation of the building, checking the headcount, and getting any medical or logistic help if needed.
However, this system might fail if the supervisors are out of the office most of the time. Therefore, you need to plan the procedure to ensure safety and security and do not get haphazard. To summarize, the points mentioned above are a part of the emergency procedure. Additionally, you should educate your employees and train them well so that they are prepared to cater to any such situations. Talk to your local fire responders to conduct a drill at your workplace. Please do not assume that everyone knows how to handle contingencies, instead provide them with adequate training to ensure overall safety.