Workplace Evacuation Plans: How Prepared is Your Organization?
Many organizations dedicate minimal time, if any, to evacuation and workplace safety, unless they are engaged in a high-risk industry. The mindset of “it will never happen to me”, or “that could never possibly happen here!” is a common reason for inadequate disaster and evacuation plans. Employees and employers who are convinced that extreme weather, threats of violence, workplace violence events, or other disasters will not impact them are possibly in for an unpleasant surprise. It would be a difficult and lengthy road to returning the business operations to the condition prior to the disaster striking without a thorough disaster plan in place.
Employers of all sizes are encouraged to establish a dedicated safety and emergency preparedness plan. Fire drills, earthquake drills, and disaster recovery processes are just a few of these types of preparations that help mitigate loss when devastation occurs.
Plans that are thorough and encompass detailed processes and are communicated clearly to an employer’s management team are likely to be successful in meeting their objectives. Additionally, employers who encourage employee engagement in disaster preparedness programs and drills are likely to have a more favorable reception to the program.
Some of the key components of an emergency response plan are:
- Having a Safety Committee with representation from each department
- Holding regularly scheduled meetings and drills (quarterly or semi-annual)
- Ensuring the workplace is compliant with OSHA standards
- Posting evacuation maps throughout the facility
- Providing First Aid Kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Maintaining backup File Storage (Offsite servers, record storage facilities)
- Offering CPR Training
- Having a defibrillator
- Keeping a list of emergency contacts
- Maintaining Emergency Kits (non-perishable food items, batteries, flashlights, blankets)
- Communicating and consulting with Law Enforcement and Fire Department Officials
Additionally, be sure to check with your facility manager to coordinate drills and to ensure you are not duplicating efforts. Safety committees should ensure that minutes from each meeting are recorded and communicated to the organization’s leadership team.
Whereas no organization can truly anticipate the risks that it may face due to natural disasters, workplace violence events or the compromise of proprietary/confidential information, planning ahead and designating proactive measures will help the organization communicate its emergency response plan clearly to its employees.