Introduction: I BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW that your employees’ ability to respond to an emergency situation is increased by more than 90% if they have been properly trained and are aware of key personnel in the event of an emergency situation.
Background: Employees should know what actions need to be taken if there is ever an onsite emergency occurs. Developing and documenting an Emergency Response Plan is an OSHA requirement. It should be specific to your workplace once you evaluate and identify potential emergency conditions and include evacuation policies and procedures, emergency reporting procedures, and an alarm system. Get your employees involved in the developing plans as they know first-hand the hazards that are confronted in the daily operations. After it is documented, review it with all employees to make sure they know what to do before, during, and after an emergency.
What must an employee know: It is critical that employees know who the emergency coordinator is and that this person has the authority to make decisions during an emergency. The coordinator is responsible for evaluating a situation to determine whether an emergency exist that requires activating emergency procedures, overseeing emergency procedures, notifying and coordinating with outside emergency services, and directing shutdown of utilities or company operations.
After developing the Emergency Response Plan make sure employees are fully aware of the procedures and properly trained. Some employee need to be designated to assist in the safe and orderly evacuation of all personnel. Review the plan with all employees when:
* It is first developed;
* Or an employee is initially assigned to work task or different work assignments;
* Or if an employee’s responsibilities change;
* Or if the plan changes.
Plan review, Coordination, and Up-date
Have your plan reviewed by local emergency responders in your areas to ensure its completeness and to improve its effectiveness. Hold practice evacuation drills to make all employees familiar with the emergency procedures, exit routes, and assembly locations so if an actual emergency occurs, they will be able to respond properly and safely. Drills should be conducted at least semi-annually to keep all employees prepared and could include outside resources such as fire and police department when possible. After each practice drill get employee feedback to improve the effectiveness of the plan.
Review the Emergency Response Plan on a regular basis and update it whenever:
* There is a change in emergency response or responsibilities.
* A change in the layout or design of the workplace.
* New equipment, hazardous materials, or processes are introduced that affect evacuation routes.
* New types of hazards are introduced that require special action.
* A new employee is hired.
* After a real emergency has occurred to check for effectiveness.
Safety Excellence – Is It In You?