Emergency Management with a plan for emergency in the workplace is an essential part of every organization or business.  Each organization is responsible for providing a plan for emergency to develop a safe environment for workers, volunteers, employees, and also the general public.  Having an emergency plan in place, first and foremost can save lives; however, it can also prevent or reduce property loss or damage, and help prevent business failure.

In the above video from WorkSafe BC, Emergency Management consultants advise organizations with the information needed to implement an emergency disaster management plan so they will be prepared for whatever emergency may occur, whether it is a natural disaster, a man made hazard, or an accident.

Getting Started

The first step is to start employees thinking about disaster preparedness in the workplace and to develop an emergency consciousness in the workplace.

Quick Answers In A Crisis

An emergency plan needs to include a guide with quick answers that can be pulled of the shelf in a crisis.  This guide needs to let an individual quickly assess:

What is needed to solve this problem?

How do I do it?

Who do I contact?

What equipment do we have or do I need?

A Flexible Series Of Activities

A disaster and emergency management plan should be a flexible series of activities that employees can perfect through trial runs.  An effective, well managed plan, involves workers as part of the solution which equips people to deal with an unexpected emergency in a controlled manner.

Hazard Analysis

Creating your disaster and emergency management plan begins with determining the types of events that can threaten you.  Are you in a flood zone, an earthquake prone area, tornadoes?  Consider other possible emergencies such as a major break in a water line or gas line.

Hazard Reduction, also known as Mitigation

Once hazards are identified, the next step is to plan a response.  Many community agencies offer guidance on Hazard Reduction and some will conduct a walk through to assess your situation and streamline your program.

Hazard Reduction also includes activities such as backing up copies of vital business records, proper ventilation to remove hazardous vapors, location shutoff valves for gas and water, etc.

Also consider if an evacuation is needed, how will you handle that? If you need sheltering for people, how will you handle that?

Implement a first aid course and CPR training, as well as search and rescue skills.

During The Crisis

This is the time when your Hazard Analysis and Reduction plans are put into action.  Experience has shown that emergency response training of workers not only minimizes injuries, damage, the recovery process, but carries the added benefit of confidence among the workers in knowing management cares about their health and well-being.

Testing The Plan

Testing the plan is a key element to its success.  Begin by providing a simple paper exercise where an emergency scenario is outlined and go over what the employee responsibilities and response should be.  Also conduct a full-blown evacuation drill with all employees involved.  This allows them to become familiar with the procedures laid out in the plan.

Case Study No. 1

The First Interstate Bank of California is an example of how testing an emergency management plan can pay off in an actual emergency.  In 1988 they experienced a catastrophic fire that burned for more than 4 hours, destroyed 5 floors, and caused 50 million dollars worth of damage.  The bank had recently tested their emergency plan just 3 weeks prior to the fire and everyone knew what their role was.  Each business operating in the 62-story building knew what action to take, reducing the chaotic activity of each office environment trying to solve problems without knowing what the big picture was.

Case Study No. 2

Metro-McNair Laboratories in British Columbia has 400 employees with 52 labs and offices.  They work with dangerous chemicals and medical specimens. In designing their fully integrated safety program, they gathered information and advice from community resources like the Workers’ Compensation Board, police, fire, water and other municipal departments.  They created 2 manuals in order to deal with an emergency at both types of locations their business has: a lab location and branch locations.

A Quick Reference Guide is in on hand so employees can quickly look at the table of contents and find the type of emergency that they may be in.  A checklist style action plan is included for any manager or supervisor or person who is first on the scene so they can quickly run through all the things that they are supposed to do, which is often difficult when you’re in the midst of a stressful situation.

Insurance Isn’t Enough

Without an emergency management plan, insurance alone won’t provide complete protection.  While buildings and equipment are costly, people are your mainstay.

A Plan Provides Security

Emergency Management is a crucial part of any business plan.  WorkSafe BC has made this video available, along with nearly 300 other workplace safety videos,  providing excellent guidelines and procedures that will help your organization know what needs to be included in order to establish a quality emergency and disaster management plan.  Emergency Management not only helps protect and reduce the loss of critical assets and help your business with recovery operations after an emergency; but, there is a moral responsibility to develop a safe environment for everyone involved in your organization.