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Educate Employees on Emergency Preparedness: National Safety Month Week 3

This article was originally published by Chris Kilbourne on the Safety Daily Advisor Blog. 

Every June, the National Safety Council (NSC) celebrates National Safety Month “to educate and influence behaviors around leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths.” So this month, the Friday Safety Daily Advisor will participate by giving you training information and resources on each weekly theme.

NSM’s overall theme this year is “Safety Starts with Me,” which is the principle that everyone in the workplace is responsible for safety, not just management or safety professionals. So it’s important to train your employees on how to stay safe.

To that end, today’s Advisor gives you information you can use next week to train workers on wellness in conjunction with National Safety Month’s Week Three theme: Emergency Preparedness.

First Things First

An emergency action plan (EAP) is a written document required by OSHA’s emergency action plan standard (29 CFR 1910.38). Its purpose is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies.

The plan should be written, but it can be communicated orally in organizations with 10 or fewer employees.

According to OSHA, a well-developed plan that’s understood by employees will result in fewer and less severe injuries and less damage to the facility.

Train, Communicate, Practice

Training should be offered when you develop your initial plan and to all new hires. Employees should be retrained when duties or responsibilities under the plan change, or if a new facility layout, equipment, or hazards are introduced.

Educate employees about the types of emergencies that could occur. Be sure they understand the elements of your emergency action plan and any specific site hazards. In addition, training should address:

  • Who will be in charge,
  • Notification procedures,
  • How to locate family members in an emergency,
  • Evacuation and sheltering procedures,
  • Location and use of emergency equipment, and
  • Shutdown procedures.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also recommends a crisis communication plan. This describes how your organization will communicate with employees, local authorities, customers, and others during and after a disaster.

Employees need information about reporting to work. Emergency responders, the general public, and neighboring businesses should be provided with a briefing on the nature of the emergency.

Go beyond planning and actually practice your plan on a regular basis. Many workplaces conduct drills and exercises, some investing in sophisticated simulations to ensure that everyone knows what to expect and what to do.

Don’t Wait

Organizations that plan, train, communicate, and assess their emergency response are likely to have the best outcomes in terms of damage to people and property.

Don’t ignore emergency planning—an activity that could make the difference between an unfortunate event and a tragedy.

For more information on National Safety Month, visit NSC’s website.

Why It Matters

  • According to the American Red Cross, nearly 60 percent of Americans are unprepared for a disaster of any kind.
  • And 40 percent of businesses never reopen after a disaster.
  • Training your workers regularly on what to do in an emergency can ensure that your employees and your company do not fall into these statistics.