Best Practices for Handling Emergencies in the Workplace
The term “workplace emergency” refers to any unforeseen event that threatens the safety of your workers, clients, and the immediate community at large. It may cause you to temporarily or permanently halt operations or perhaps suffer actual damage to property or the environment.
Natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, man-made catastrophes like chemical spills and explosions, social unrest, and even violence in the workplace count as emergencies.
Since emergencies can happen at any time, it’s essential to be prepared for many situations and know how to respond appropriately.
Types of Office Emergencies
There are many different types of emergencies, but they can generally be categorized as either natural, work-related, or civil.
Large-scale occurrences of dangerous geological or meteorological phenomena are considered natural emergencies.
All forms of extreme weather can be considered natural disasters and pose a serious risk to life and property, as well as to a nation’s infrastructure and security. Disasters of this nature can strike at any time of year or without any warning, leaving the country vulnerable to instability, disruption, and economic loss.
These are the most common types of workplace emergencies, and their causes are directly related to the tasks performed in the workplace. For example, an emergency at work could involve anything from a chemical spill or explosion to a broken piece of machinery or the emission of toxic gasses.
Although these emergencies are less common than those involving actual work or natural disasters, that doesn’t make them any less serious. Protests, strikes, and acts of violence or harassment between employees or between clients and employees are all examples of civil factors that could disrupt business operations.
Helpful Tips for Handling Emergencies in the Workplace
If you manage a company, you must protect your workers from harm on the job. Here are some measures that companies can take to strengthen their response strategy in any emergency at work.
Emergency Action Plan
Unexpected events can have far-reaching effects, as the coronavirus demonstrated. Having an emergency plan in place to keep operations going in the face of adversity is the responsibility of both the business owner and the office manager.
Having an emergency action plan in place demonstrates a company’s commitment to the well-being of its employees and customers. Without an emergency plan, the company could suffer devastating consequences, including the loss of life and finances.
Employers should have a written policy available to employees that explains the basics of the emergency response and evacuation system. The following components should comprise the emergency plan:
It is necessary to install workplace hazard signs in close proximity to potentially hazardous areas, such as dangerous machines and pipes. Safety signs can also be posted near first aid equipment, fire extinguishers, and emergency exit routes.
In the event of an emergency or other dangerous situations, it is especially crucial to have safety signs posted around the workplace to remind workers to take precautions and stay aware at all times.
Emergency Notification Systems
A database of personal information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, and social media handles is stored in a system designed to send out urgent messages. After being activated, the system can rapidly broadcast thousands of messages. It can also process incoming status updates from recipients.
It’s a system that can automatically reach out to specific people within an organization and relay vital information to them in an emergency.
When an emergency occurs, businesses need to assess the damage and inform their staff, top management, and other relevant parties about the situation’s potential consequences. Corporate communications, such as phone calls, SMS, and emails, can be sent out immediately using emergency notification systems.
Chain of Command
The efficiency of an emergency alert system depends on how well it is managed. Hence, determine who will be in charge of sending out alerts and who will step in if they cannot.
Depending on the scale of the operation, it may be necessary to appoint a public information officer, a media liaison, a trauma coordinator, and a coordinator for emergency response teams (including search and rescue and safety officers).
When an evacuation strategy is in place, the next step is to educate employees on how to execute it. There’s a good chance that your community’s fire department would be willing to assist with evacuation drills. Moreover, make sure that employees with disabilities have access to appropriate support in case of evacuation.
To properly wind down operations, you may at times require a few personnel to remain on-site for a bit longer. To guarantee their safety, implement comprehensive safety protocols and provide them with in-depth safety training.
Even though there are instructions for using a fire extinguisher printed on the canister or box, they may not be followed correctly during a crisis. Employees should be trained in advance on how to use a fire extinguisher in the event of an emergency.
You need a plan to ensure everyone gets out of the building safely after the evacuation. Set a meeting place and conduct roll calls from that spot. Keep in mind that it’s not just staff that needs to be taken into account, but everybody who has entered the building, including customers.
Confusion during an emergency can make a potentially dangerous situation much worse. That’s why it’s crucial to devise an emergency plan and train employees in its execution. With such a strategy in place, disorganization and panic can be avoided or at least mitigated in the event of an emergency.