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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Building an Emergency Plan for Your Workplace

4/5/2021 (Permalink)

title over red emergency light Have a plan in place for your employees' safety when disaster strikes.

Disaster can strike anytime and anywhere. Mother Nature is unpredictable, and fires don’t stick to a convenient schedule. Emergencies at work are just as likely as emergencies at your own home. Creating a comprehensive emergency response plan can save lives.

The actions you take within the first few moments of any emergency are critical and can change the course of how the events unfold. Emergencies in the workplace can include Robberies. Cybersecurity Incidents, Natural Disasters, On-Site Accidents, etc. It is important to have a plan to battle any and all of the possibilities. 

Steps to Creating an Effective Emergency Plan in the Workplace

Step one: Assemble the Team -  The strength of the plan depends on the commitment of your team. Seek out the participation of everyone in the office in the early stages. 

Step Two: Conduct Risk Assessment - Conduct a risk assessment to identify potential hazards and vulnerabilities within your organization. People should always be your first consideration in a risk assessment, but risks to physical assets and the environment should also be included in your assessment.

Step Three: Establish Objectives - Performance objectives are quantifiable and tangible milestones that you’ll achieve as you develop your emergency preparedness program. Key recommendations: 

  • Reach out to public emergency services and regulators.
  • Conduct a business impact analysis (in addition to your risk assessment) to identify the operational and financial impacts from an interruption or disruption of your business.
  • Identify opportunities for hazard prevention and risk mitigation.
  • Protect the safety of your employees by developing evacuation, sheltering, and lockdown plans.
  • Conduct employee training and drills.
  • Install an emergency generator to power the data center during a power outage.
  • Install a fire sprinkler system.
  • Phase-out the use of highly toxic or flammable chemicals.
  • Build a culture of preparedness in the workplace and encourage employees to have a plan at home.

Step Four: Create Written Policy -  OSHA’s minimum requirements suggest that your plan should include the following elements:

  • Means of reporting fires and other emergencies.
  • Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments.
  • Procedures for employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate.
  • Accounting for all employees after an emergency evacuation has been completed.
  • Rescue and medical duties for employees performing them.
  • Names or job titles of persons who can be contacted in case of an emergency.

Step Five: Develop an on-site Emergency Response Team - Designate cool-headed and well-respected emergency response leaders within your organization to lead evacuation (as necessary), coordinate communication, conduct a headcount and communicate detailed information to 911 dispatch and emergency responders. These team members should also be responsible for making sure that minors, disabled employees, or at-risk residents are safely sheltered or evacuated.

Step Six: Practice and Review - Your Emergency Response Plan is only as good as the people who are carrying it out. Every six months, conduct emergency drills and schedule a one-on-one with your in-house ERT members to make sure they’re still up for the job.

Hopefully, this exercise will be done as a preventative measure and a just-in-case plan that will never need to be used. Unfortunately, Emergencies do happen, and in the case that they do, the first (or second) call you to make is extremely important. You should always call 9-1-1 first, but making your second call to SERVPRO can mean saving a lot of time and money restoring your office to its previous condition. Be sure to add 1-800-SERVPRO to your Emergency Response Plan, or reach out for help in creating one for your business.

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