How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies

A workplace emergency is never a pleasurable experience. The reality is, emergencies happen. It's crucial to plan for these emergencies. Preparation can make a world of difference when faced with a stressful situation.

What is a Workplace Emergency?

An emergency in the workplace involves an unexpected event that threatens; you, your co-workers, clients, customers, or public. These emergencies may be minor, simply disrupting the workplace. Other incidences may be more severe, and can be extremely damaging. Emergencies vary, but some examples are:

  1. Hurricanes

  2. Fires

  3. Floods

  4. Violence in the workplace

  5. Civil disturbance

  6. Toxic gas release

  7. Chemical spill

  8. Explosion

As you can see, these example are highly unpredictable. Once they occur, there will be little time to react. That is why it's crucial to be prepared for these instances.

How to Plan for an Accident

When there's a crisis, it will be hard to think clearly. Here are some of the most beneficial ways to plan ahead.

  1. Action Plan: Different locations will vary in terms of workplace accidents. Tailor your action plan to your specific work site. If you have chemicals on site, work your action plan around these items. Although each location differs, all action plans should include; a method to report a fire or emergency, an emergency escape route, and an evacuation procedure.

  2. Educate: If you have employees that work for you, make sure you're educating them on the possible emergencies that may occur. Depending on the risk, you may provide training regarding emergency situations. If you are an employee, don't be afraid to ask about these topics. It's important to educate yourself, especially if no one has provided you with details.

  3. Install Alarms: Make sure you install some sort of alarm system. That way all employees can be informed as soon as an emergency occurs.

  4. Carry Out Drills: You can have planned drills, or even surprise drills. This will most commonly be related to workplace fires. Physically reacting to a fire drill will allow employees to learn what to do, and where to go. If there were ever a fire, this would help eliminate some of the panic.

  5. Make it a Priority: If you have the attitude that an emergency won't happen, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation. Not knowing that an emergency will occur is what makes it so dangerous. You need to make preventative measures and preparation a priority.

  6. Take it Seriously: Emergency preparation isn't something to take lightly. Make sure you're taking precautions seriously. This is especially the case for management. If you treat this planning process as a joke, your employees are more likely to follow.

  7. Be Open: If you're in a position to make decisions, make sure you're open to suggestions. If an employee approaches you with ideas, make sure you're willing to listen. You don't want to tell that employee their idea would've been beneficial AFTER an emergency occurs.

  8. First-Aid Equipment: Make sure you have proper equipment at work. Although some emergencies will need hospital assistance, smaller wounds will need to be dressed before emergency respondents arrive. This will be select scenarios, but it's never a bad idea to have first-aid items on site.

It's key to remember that emergencies are never expected to occur. It's hard to plan when an emergency will take place. However, you can plan how you will deal with one. It's all in your planning, and preparation. Make sure you're ready for an emergency, before it occurs. 

Photo credit: Flickr