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Emergency Preparedness – Are you ready?

Emergency Checklist and ballpoint pen. Close-up.

Disaster and emergencies can strike anytime, anywhere. If one happened today, are you confident that you are prepared and would know what to do?

Emergency Preparedness is a vital part of all job sites and work spaces.  Below you will find information on how to prepare your workplace.

Emergency Preparedness

Follow these basic guidelines to develop an effective emergency response plan for your workplace:

  • Determine the conditions under which an evacuation would be necessary.
  • Designate primary and secondary evacuation routes and emergency exits.
    • Make sure they are clearly marked and well lit.
    • Post signs.
    • Install emergency lighting in case a power outage occurs during an evacuation.
  • Ensure that evacuation routes and emergency exits are:
    • Wide enough to accommodate the number of evacuating people
    • Clear and unobstructed at all times
    • Unlikely to expose evacuating people to additional hazards
  • Coordinate your plan with the local emergency management office.
  • Designate “evacuation wardens” who will help others during an evacuation and account for employees.
  • Establish specific evacuation procedures.
  • Establish a system for accounting for evacuated employees.
  • Hold emergency drills at least once a year to ensure that employees know what to do in an emergency and to test the effectiveness of emergency exit routes and procedures. Keep records of such drills.
  • Consider the transportation needs of employees.
  • Post evacuation procedures where employees can read them.
  • Establish procedures for assisting people with disabilities and people who do not speak English.
  • Consider how you would access important personal information about employees in an emergency (for example, contact numbers for their home, next-of-kin, and medical care). You could store emergency contact information for employees in an easily accessible location.

Assembly Areas (Muster Point)

Following a site evacuation, you should gather employees and other evacuees at a designated assembly area (Muster Point) and account for each person to make sure everyone has been evacuated safely.

Accountability

Follow these guidelines:

  • Designate assembly areas where people should gather after evacuating.
  • Establish a head-count system for employees at the assembly area. The emergency operations coordinator should receive a list of the names and last-known locations of missing employees as soon as possible after arriving at the assembly area.
  • Establish a method of accounting for non-employees such as suppliers and customers.
  • Establish procedures for further evacuation in case the incident expands. This may consist of sending employees home by normal means or providing them with transportation to an off-site location.
  • Identify shelter space in your facility and the surrounding community.
  • Establish procedures for sending evacuees to shelter.
  • Develop a list of necessary emergency supplies such as water, food, and medical supplies.
  • Coordinate plans with local authorities.

Search and Rescue

Search and rescue efforts should only be conducted by properly trained and equipped professionals. Death or serious injury can occur if untrained employees reenter a damaged or contaminated facility.

Education and Training

Educate your employees about the types of emergencies that may occur, and train them in the proper course of action for emergency situations. Make sure they understand:

  • The components of your emergency response plan
  • Who will be in charge during an emergency

Emergency response training for your employees should address the following:

  • Individual roles and responsibilities
  • Potential threats, hazards, and protective actions
  • Notification, warning, and communications procedures
  • How to locate family members in an emergency
  • Emergency response procedures
  • Evacuation, shelter, and accountability procedures
  • Location and use of common emergency equipment

What emergency information is necessary?

  • Provide employees with information such as checklists and evacuation maps.
  • Post evacuation maps in strategic locations.
  • Consider the information needs of customers and others who visit your store.