Employers, who want to establish a safe and healthy working environment, need to be aware of the many hazards posed to workers. Employee injuries or fatalities, even in extreme situations such as fire, severe weather or acts of workplace violence, can be greatly minimized or prevented with preparation and management. Have you safeguarded your company against these threats?
Emergency Preparedness- Is Your Company Ready?
- Investigate the Potential. Walk through your facility and determine security breaches, such as entry ways, foyers, parking lots or open dock areas that may present a hazard. Instruct employees on workplace violence and reporting suspicious activity or dangerous situations.
- Establish Meeting Places and Shelter Areas: Post shelter signs and determine exit routes and meeting places. Make sure exit routes are at least 28” wide and do not take employees through the path or presence of flammables or dangerous chemicals. Map exit routes for employees.
- Two Separate and Distinct Sounds: Provide two diverse alarm sounds that alert employees for evacuation and seeking shelter. If you do not have a fire alarm or paging system, air horns can be substituted throughout the plant. Use a long blast for one type of alarm, (such as evacuation) and several short blasts for seeking shelter.
- Weather Alerts: Implement a means to receive incoming weather alerts. You might consider weather radios or cell phone programs to inform first responders or management.
- Written Programs: Not only are written policies or programs a sound idea for documenting company procedures, under OSHA’s Emergency Action Plan standard, (29 CFR 1910.38)-it’s the law. Have all procedures in writing, including employee contact numbers of company first responders, emergency personnel and spill clean-up crews.
- Drill Your Employees: Have at least two drills a year, one for seeking shelter and one for evacuation. Time your company’s response time. All employees should reach shelter or safety within three minutes or less. Prior to the first drill, it’s most effective to instruct employees on shelter areas, meeting places and alarm sounds.
- First Responders: Select workers from each department, shift, and building to be first responders, prepared to direct and assist employees to safety and with health issues.
- Train Workers: According to law and best practice management, workers who are first responders need training in Bloodborne Pathogens, (29 CFR 1910.1030), CPR and First Aid (29 CFR 1910.151). Conduct re-trainings annually. Additional site or region specific training may be needed for earthquake or flood crisis response.
- First Aid Kits: Keep first aid kits in prominent, easily accessible locations. Make sure these are well stocked with burn spray, various sized bandages, triple anti-biotic cream, pain relievers and gloves. Bloodborne pathogen kits, with bio-hazard bags, face shields and paper gowns for cleanup of blood or other body fluids are also essentials.
- Fire Extinguishers: Maintain fire extinguishers throughout your facility in good working order. Select and space according to directives by OSHA’s standards (29 CFR 1910.157-159) based on flammables present and facility type. Train all employees on using fire extinguishers to clear an exit.
- Media: Inform workers on the media source for alerts of incipient weather preventing work or other hazardous conditions.