The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is an example of how important it is to be prepared for an emergency. Every workplace, no matter the size, needs to have an emergency plan in place to ensure that employers and workers will be prepared to respond quickly and effectively.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a workplace emergency as a situation that threatens workers, consumers, or the community. An emergency may include the following:
An employer should identify what kinds of hazards or risks exist in their workplace and surrounding environment in order to develop a comprehensive emergency plan that considers all potential disasters. In this way, they can be prepared for every potential scenario, and employees will know exactly how to respond. The ultimate goal of any emergency plan is to reduce injuries.
A good emergency plan includes the following elements:
Once hazards have been identified and a workplace emergency plan has been developed, actions must be taken to implement it. A good emergency plan is one that has been tested and practiced. The first step is to share the plan with employees and getting feedback. Often, employees can identify strengths and weaknesses in a plan and help improve it. Resources must be devoted to ensure that supplies and emergency equipment are on hand and easily available. Basic supplies include at a minimum:
After sharing the workplace emergency plan with all employees, training must take place so that emergency procedures can be practiced and perfected. Training also ensures that each employee knows their role in an emergency so that the procedures can be carried out quickly and efficiently. It also gives workers the chance to practice for different scenarios as every emergency is unique. Anything that does not go as planned in training can be modified and improved.
Also, a crisis communication plan is critical in an emergency scenario. This plan includes how to communicate with staff, the public, and suppliers in the event of an emergency and who will be responsible for doing so.
Emergency plans are not set in stone, they are constantly evolving and adapting to new hazards and conditions. Forming an emergency response team is a practical way to monitor the emergency plan and continue improving it. After every emergency is resolved or at least twice a year, the plan should be reviewed by the team and updated. The emergency response team can explore ways to improve emergency management and response times.
A workplace safety checklist goes hand in hand with an emergency plan. A plan cannot be executed properly if key elements are not functioning. Alarms, fire equipment, monitoring cameras, medical equipment, and emergency supplies are some of the items that require regular maintenance and belong on a safety checklist.
In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 2.8 million non-fatal work injuries and occupational illnesses. Most minor workplace accidents can be resolved with medical care at the scene, but serious accidents present an emergency situation that employers must be prepared for.
More dangerous work sites include ones with hazardous chemicals, flammable materials, and heavy machinery. In the United States, emergencies stemming from gun violence threaten workers in public service industries, schools, and retail. In every kind of workplace, employers need to be prepared by identifying, removing, and mitigating safety hazards, which includes an emergency plan.
Every workplace should have an emergency plan to lessen accidents and injuries. If you have a work injury, contact a Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation lawyer at AlpernSchubert P.C. for help with your claim. Our legal team will investigate your case and fight to get you the benefits you need to recover. Located in Pittsburgh, we advocate for injured workers throughout western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County. Call 412-765-1888 or contact us online for a free consultation today.