Safety is No Accident, If You Plan Ahead
National Preparedness Month is an observance sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) every September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies. Dangerous experiences can happen anywhere, including at work. Whether they are natural events like hurricanes, extreme heat, earthquakes or floods; industrial hazards like a chemical explosions or structural fail; or a criminal act like a bomb threat, getting through them is easier if you already have a safety plan in place.
This year, the theme for National Preparedness month is “Prepare to Protect.” With that in mind, these are three key steps to take prior to any workplace emergency to ensure to the safety of your employees:
1. Prepare a plan. This should be a team effort involving all stakeholders. Gather information to:
- Determine the best practices for each situation.
- Put the plan in writing and distribute it to all stakeholders.
- Post the plan, in key areas like exits and in the employee lunchroom - where it is most likely to be seen.
- Secure vendors and supply list for each scenario.
- For evacuation situations, prepare an offsite necessities kit with at least a three-day supply of sanitation items, bottled water and other means of hydration, and non-perishable foods.
2. Assign responsibilities. During any emergency or natural disaster, you don’t want employees wandering around wondering what to do or who should do what. Assign details, from who will call 911 to who will help guide people through any life-endangering chaos. Provide neon-colored safety vests or shirts to the assigned leaders so employees know who is in charge.
3. Getting Equipped: Having the proper safety equipment on hand is key to getting through any emergency or disaster safely. The good news is that some of this equipment can be used non-emergency related occurrences too. So, whether you are evacuating your building or enjoying an event, crowd control is essential for many mid-size and large companies. Here is an equipment checklist to keep in mind:
- Traffic cones should be sturdy enough to prevent them from being knocked over and be brightly colored to be seen. Cones with a reflective collar are great for nighttime visibility.
- Delineators can be extremely useful, especially in cases where traffic can be detoured around an emergency, such as a hazardous chemical spill.
- Barrier posts/ belts should be on hand to keep foot traffic flowing in an orderly fashion away from the emergency and to guide people waiting in lines for emergency supplies.
- Personal safety gear items like an LED-lit light wand is essential for keeping those directing traffic either in or outside of your building.
- Durable, lightweight barriers are easy to set up and transport and can keep people in cars or on foot away from a disaster site, especially when a disaster is a spectacle likely to attract onlookers to a potentially dangerous area.
- Dangerous spills can lead to an emergency especially when working with hazardous chemicals. It’s crucial to keep an inventory of absorbents so clean-ups can be controlled before they get out of control.
Being prepared for all emergencies may not be possible, but having a plan in place can go a long way towards keeping everyone safe.
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