Preparing your workforce for an emergency

Does each of your employees know his or her role in an emergency?

Do you know yours?

By definition, an emergency is an unexpected event that requires an immediate response; however, just because you don’t see it coming doesn’t mean you should shirk the responsibility of getting your staff fully trained to react and having a detailed crisis plan in place outlining how your business is going to reply let alone continue uninterrupted.

Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from something as simple as water damage from heavy rains to a chemical spill or natural-gas line break that requires the evacuation of workers from an area to a full-scale natural disaster. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 40 percent of businesses fail to reopen after a disaster and another 25 percent fail within one year. Even more startling, statistics from the U.S. Small Business Administration, indicate that up to 90 percent of business fail within two years of a disaster.

Having a set of protocols in place that spell out the steps of response for a business and its employees will increase safety and security as well as help mitigate the negative effects of an emergency.

“Training is essential to ensure that everyone knows what to do when there is an emergency or disruption of business operations. Everyone needs training to become familiar with protective actions for life safety (e.g., evacuation, shelter, shelter-in-place and lockdown),” according to Ready.gov. “Review protective actions for life safety and conduct evacuation drills (‘fire drills’) as required by local regulations. Sheltering and lockdown drills should also be conducted. Employees should receive training to become familiar with safety, building security, information security and other loss-prevention programs.”

Launched in February 2003, Ready.gov is a national public service campaign designed to educate and empower U.S. residents to prepare for, respond to and minimize emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters. The goal of the campaign is to promote preparedness through public involvement.

While all employees should receive training in proactive measures to help ensure personal safety and loss prevention, businesses should also identify members for emergency response, business continuity and crisis communications teams. Each team should be given additional and more intense training in its role and responsibility outlined in an emergency or disaster plan.

“If emergency response team members administer first aid, CPR or use AEDs, they should receive training to obtain and maintain those certifications,” according to Ready.gov. “If employees use portable fire extinguishers, fire hoses or other firefighting equipment, they should be trained in accordance with the applicable (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulation. If employees respond to hazardous materials spills, they also require training.”

Records documenting the scope of training, participants, instructor and duration should be maintained by the business.

 

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