The American Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes. These range from small house fires or floods to large-scale events like this summer’s wildfires in California or the recent hurricane back east. And they all have something in common—any type of disaster can throw a business or other workplace into chaos.
When the unexpected happens, you need to be prepared. As an employer, this means having an Emergency Action Plan at your workplace and making sure your employees know what to do in order to find their way to safety in as orderly a way as possible.
Expect the unexpected
Be prepared. Take the time to review your current plan, discuss it with your employees, and make any necessary updates. One place to start could be your workplace evacuation plan. Do your employees know your evacuation procedure? Do they know the evacuation route? Do they know where to meet up after exiting the building?
Those are just three of Cal/OSHA’s requirements for an emergency action plan. Others include:
- Procedures for employees who stay back for critical operations before they evacuate.
- How to account for all employees after an evacuation is complete.
- Rescue and medical duties for those employees assigned to perform them.
- The preferred means of reporting emergencies.
- Names or job titles of persons or departments to contact for further information or explanation of duties under the plan.
A few other steps might include having an emergency food supply, survival blankets, flashlight, and battery-operated radio among your supplies in case employees cannot leave the workplace for a few days. And, of course, always have a first aid kit and make sure employees know where to find it.
Practice, practice, practice
Practicing the evacuation plan a few times each year helps familiarize employees with escape routes and where to meet up after exiting the building. The drills also help you identify and address any problems with your evacuation plan.
As with many things in life, preparation is the key to a successful outcome, especially for disasters and emergencies. The confidence you’ll get from your preparation and the confidence your employees will get from practicing helps all of you successfully reach safety when the unexpected happens.