Emergency Escape Plans Save Employee Lives; Do You Have One?

What would your employees do in an emergency?

Are they prepared for the unexpected? Do they know what to do? Do they know whom to call for help? Are they qualified to help? If you answered yes to these questions, then great, but if you answered no, then you need to pay special attention.

All businesses should have a written emergency plan, and you should provide all of your staff with a copy. It should include:

  • An emergency escape plan, including procedures and escape route assignments.
  • Procedures for employees who remain to operate critical operations before they evacuate.
  • Procedures to account for all staff after emergency evacuation.
  • Rescue and medical duties for employees that are to perform them.
  • The preferred means of reporting fires and other emergencies, and names of persons responsible and who can be contacted for further information or explanation under the plan.
  • An employee alarm system, including a distinctive signal for this purpose. Training should be implemented.

Tips for your employees

No matter what their position at work, your employees need to know what to do in case of an emergency. Their lives and the lives of others depend on it.

Employees should be trained in emergency response so they can be prepared for the unexpected. They should not have to wait for an emergency to be told what to do. At that point, it’s too late.

Here’s some advice to impart to your staff at your next safety meeting:

  • In case of emergency, stay cool, don’t panic and call a supervisor or designated emergency contact for help.
  • Review the company emergency escape plan and familiarize yourself with the facility’s evacuation routes.
  • Ask your supervisors if you have any questions. Part of the reason we have safety meetings is to learn what to do before an emergency.
  • In case of emergency, the familiar route you take to leave the building may not be the best one to escape through.
  • Get to know the entire facility, review floor plans that identify emergency exits and emergency equipment, like fire extinguishers and pull switches.
  • Emergency phone numbers should be posted near telephones, for the police, fire department, insurance company, utilities and OSHA. In case of fire, call the fire department.
  • Know where fire extinguishers are located and how to use them. Do not attempt to use one if you have not been trained and if it’s not safe to do so.

Last but not least

To ensure that your workers and workplace are prepared for an emergency:

  • Conduct periodic emergency drills and keep a record of the times and employees that participated in them.
  • Make sure there are plenty of fire extinguishers, and that they are cleared of obstructions. Conduct monthly checks of your facilities to ensure that they are clear and in working order.
  • Store chemicals and gas bottles properly and in compatible groups.
  • Keep flashlights and batteries, and first aid kits with ample supplies.
  • Keep tables and areas under desks clear to make room for cover.

Remember: Emergencies are unexpected, but you can plan and practice to survive. And emergency procedures must be updated whenever there is a change in the operation, hazardous exposures or physical layout — or if new employees are working in the location.

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