Businesses and their employees can face many types of emergencies. Are you and your business prepared to handle a workplace emergency like a power outage, accident, or natural disaster? It pays to have a plan — follow these 3 important steps to be sure you’re prepared.
1. Identify Your Risks
Your business is unique so it is important that you identify the hazards that are most likely to occur in your specific location. You can help keep you and your coworkers safe by assessing your risks ahead of time. To help you get started, here are some of the most common hazards facing business today:
a. Workplace Hazards / Hazardous Materials
Many industrial and warehouse environments have possible hazards everywhere. Necessary equipment such as heavy-duty machinery, power tools, chemicals, and forklifts can put people in harm’s way when something goes wrong. Depending on your work environment, workers may come in contact with hazardous materials including flammable, poisonous, and even radioactive materials. Walk each work area regularly to identify all of the potential hazards in each specific environment.
No matter where you work each day, the possibility of a workplace fire is a real threat that must be planned for. Kitchen fires, appliances, and space heaters can lead to dangerous blazes at work just as they can in residential homes. Be sure to consider enhanced fire concerns if explosive, flammable, or combustible materials are produced, stored, transported, or disposed of in your facilities. Regular fire safety training can also help reduce the likelihood of a fire.
c. Power Outage
Power outages can strike in any season, at any time, and for a number of reasons. If you use electric power, you need to consider what you and your coworkers will do if it goes out. Are emergency exits clearly marked even in the dark? Remember to also think about indirect electricity use. For example, electric water pumps mean that water and other plumbing no longer operate as expected during a power outage.
d. Severe Weather
Severe weather can strike anywhere and anytime. Severe weather can bring a variety of hazards including damaging wind, flooding, and frozen precipitation like hail, sleet, and snow. Consider that while your location may be more prone to certain types of severe weather (dangerous spring storms in Oklahoma, Texas, and Missouri or crippling winter storms in the Northeast), it’s also important to plan for events that occur less frequently in your area. It may not snow often in places like Atlanta or Dallas, but weather events can bring infrastructures to a halt when they do occur.
e. Natural Disasters
Natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires can have dramatic and obvious impacts on businesses. Worker safety and communication is critical before, during, and after natural disasters. In extreme cases, businesses may have to temporarily close or relocate. Do you have a plan to communicate important information to each of your employees? Do they know what that plan is?
g. Expect The Unexpected
Plans don’t always need to be extremely specific. General evacuation and shelter-in-place plans can help you be prepared for unexpected events.
2. Develop A Plan
Once you know what workplace emergencies you might face, it’s time to develop a plan for each emergency and roll it out to your teams. Once plans have been rolled out, it’s just as important to regularly drill and practice each plan. Workplace emergency plans don’t do a thing if people don’t remember where to go or what to do when a real workplace emergency hits.
When planning for workplace emergencies, it’s easy to limit preparedness planning strictly to your facilities, but these same events can also impact your supply chain, distributors, and customers. Develop contingency plans to mitigate some of these effects in the event of an emergency.
3. Get Workplace Emergency Supplies Now
The best time to prepare for any emergency is now, before it occurs. Every workplace and situation is different, but here are a few recommended supplies that come in handy for many of the emergency situations discussed above:
- First Aid Kits
- Smoke Detectors
- Rain Gear
- Safety Products
- Leather Gloves
Time to get to it! Identify risks, develop plans, get supplies, and regularly review your preparedness for workplace emergencies.
Additional information to help you prepare for a workplace emergency can be found at Ready.gov which is maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.
Be sure to share this article with someone you know so they can be better prepared too.