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Emergency Preparedness: Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail 

Emergency Preparedness: Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail 

While the likelihood of having to execute an emergency plan is low, it is not zero. Everyone remembers evacuating the building when schools would have their yearly fire drill. The same fundamental principles apply to any workforce. Generally speaking, every organization should have an emergency preparedness plan in place, but does everyone know what to do if something actually occurs? The majority of the time, when an alarm is triggered, the first thing everyone does is panic, and rightfully so. We are going to discuss some of the measures you as an organization can take in order to be prepared as possible if you are dealing with an emergency scenario. 

Evacuation Plans and Alarm Systems  

For starters, every building should have evacuation maps posted throughout the facility to educate employees and visitors on the exits and proper pathways throughout a building. If you currently do not have evacuation maps, this is something you should prioritize right away. Once the map is in place, it is important that everyone understands where they should go based on what type of emergency is in place. Everyone always thinks to evacuate the building at the sign of an alarm, but you should also make sure they know where to take shelter if that is the emergency being triggered. We don’t want people hearing what they think is a fire alarm and heading outside, when in actuality it is a take shelter alarm. There is no “standard alarm” noise that everyone can recognize and automatically know that an emergency situation is occurring. In some facilities that are excessively loud, additional measures need to be taken to notify those who might not hear the alarm. Some facilities are not equipped with emergency alarms and organizations need to determine another method of notification. Something as simple as an air horn can be used. Visual alarms can play a factor in catching employees’ attention. In most scenarios, vibrating bells indicate a fire alarm, whereas alarms that sound more like horns are used to call a critical situation to attention. Paging systems can distinctly describe the emergency at hand which results in the promptest response by individuals for the type of scenario. 

Regular Emergency Drills  

As an organization, you should practice your emergency preparedness plan at least once a year. When you are practicing your plan however, it should not just be, let’s just pull the alarm and get everyone out. You should also involve your local fire department so they know you are just performing a drill. You should assess the situation and make note of how long it takes to get everyone out of the building. You should also make note of how long it takes the fire department to arrive onsite. Everything mentioned here should be documented of what went well and what did not go well. How are you making sure that you accounted for everyone in the building. This not only includes employees, but also visitors in the building. Practice makes perfect and this help you to learn any issues that occurred to prevent running into those same issues in a real emergency. 

Designated Leaders and Muster Points  

It is recommended to create emergency preparedness leaders whose responsibility is making sure their everyone on their team is out of the building. Similarly to your teacher making a head count for every student in their classroom. Depending on where you spend most of your time at your facility, there should be a designated path you can take and a designated muster or meeting point for you to go to. Having this knowledge ahead of time can aid in accounting for all individuals in a fast manner. 

Workplace Violence Preparedness  

Another component, organizations should consider is emergency preparedness when it comes to workplace violence. One of the best controls you can put into place when it comes to workplace violence is controlling your entrances and exits in a building. By not leaving doors propped open, you can ensure that no one is entering your building without at least checking in with someone prior. Employees have a tendency to leave doors open which can result in truly anyone walking into your building. It could just be someone of the street. In theory, you should never let someone in your building unattended without a scheduled appointment. 

Monitoring and Reporting Potential Altercations Now what can you do about workplace violence between employees. As a supervisor or team leader, it is important to monitor social interactions between those you are overseeing. If there is a situation where you find 2 employees arguing repeatedly, this might be an indication of a potential altercation in the future. Advise your peers to keep and eye on their interactions and to notify someone if matters seem to worsen. 

At the end of the day, you would hope that your organization is never dealt with an emergency, but in the case that you are, having a practiced plan can potentially save someone’s life. 

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