Fire ExitAre your employees trained to respond to an emergency at work?  There are any number of emergencies that can happen at your business.  What emergencies are your employees prepared to handle?  Fires generally come to mind first when thinking about workplace emergencies.  Weather events, including tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes come next.  A serious injury is another emergency that requires a proper response. Do your employees know what to do if someone started shooting a gun with intent to kill?

Emergency Action Plans are all about being prepared for something that is unlikely to happen, but if it did happen, the consequences could result in harm to your employees.  A proactive outlook goes a long way towards being prepared.  If you want to read about a man whose proactive outlook and passionate belief about emergency preparedness helped save thousands of lives on September 11, 2001 do a search on Rick Rescorla.

The most effective plans are simple to do and easy to remember.  The goal is safety, which most often means getting employees to a safe place.  Employees need to understand that once they know they need to evacuate or take shelter, all actions should lead to the correct place of safety.  In the plans we develop we encourage companies to stress that all employees are to evacuate to a safe place immediately upon signal.

If you are unsure as to whether or not there is an effective emergency action plan in place at your business, here are some questions to ask. 1.  Do we have a written emergency response plan?  This is required by OSHA if there are more than 10 employees at your business location. 2.  What emergencies are covered?  Do we have plans in place for fires and the most likely weather events in our area? 3.  How are employees notified regarding the need to evacuate?  Do we have a functioning alarm system? How are local responders notified? 4.  Do we have enough exits? 5.  Where are employees to gather if there is a building evacuation?  Where is the storm shelter? 6.  How do we account for employees and make sure everyone has safely evacuated to the assembly area or internal shelter? 7.  Have employees been trained in the emergency action procedures? 8.  Have employees been trained regarding workplace violence incidents including the presence of a shooter? 9.  Have drills been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan?

These questions will help you determine what is in place and where areas for improvement are needed. Emergency Action Plans are needed at all businesses.  Make sure your employees know how to respond in an emergency and if there is a need to initiate the plan, you can rest easy knowing that they have been prepared.

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