5 Ways to Make Sure Your Emergency Response Plan is Still Up to Snuff

While many organizations have established protocols for responding to an emergency – especially if the emergency takes place in the organization’s central facility, some organizations fail to update their policies and response guidelines in order to account for the change in modern technology and legislation. However, these policies and guidelines should be reviewed frequently in order to improve safety and ensure accordance with both laws and the safety philosophy of the organization.

According to an OHS article by Karen D. Hamel, Technical Education Manager for New Pig Corp. there are five important ideas which can ensure that an emergency response plan remains effective and up-to-date:

Take a Field Trip

Organizations change over time and the same is true about the physical layout, the nature of the work performed, and countless other commercial aspects. As such, one of the most important things to do when reviewing an emergency response plan is to examine the area in person and determine if the response plan is still the best method.

Karen indicates that field trips are an excellent time to update and double-check contact information for employees in the area.

Go Outside the Box

Sometimes a fresh set (or sets) of eyes can perceive issues that others more close to the organization can not. While there are available safety consultants available for hire in most areas, Karen mentions that most health and safety boards/committees will be happy to provide free consultations in the interest of renewing an organization’s safety plans.

Other resources such as first responders (police, firefighters, etc.) may also be useful in providing feedback regarding emergency response plans. Allowing responders to become familiar with an organizations structural layout can also be of benefit by improving the effectiveness of those services should a real emergency occur.

Pick Up the Phone

Verify all organizational contacts and update the list often. From suppliers to government officials, it is crucial that an organization have the correct contact information for the correct people when required. In regard to safety response this is doubly critical.

The time to find out there’s a new county EMA director is not when he’s at the front gate during an emergency.”   –   Karen D. Hamel

Take a Page From the Plan

Give your organization’s safety plan to a select test group of employees (five to ten) who are not on your organization’s safety body. Have the test group perform the emergency plan to determine any weaknesses or potential improvements. The test group should take notes on how well the plan worked and especially where it was deficient.

Conduct Regular Training and Drills

Every employee should be well versed in the emergency response plan of your organization. While many organizations may provide training to new hires, it is important that all employees receive frequent refreshes and updates in order to ensure that their evacuation and response skills are well-honed. Karen asks several questions as examples of what employees should be able to answer:

1) Does everyone know what to do in an emergency?

2) Should they turn off a machine before they evacuate?

3) Should they use a fire extinguisher or pull an alarm?

4) Where do they go to evacuate?

5) To whom do they report after they have safely evacuated?

If anything less than 100% of the employees in an organization are not able to confidently answer questions about what to do in an emergency, retraining is imminently necessary.

Performing safety drills is an excellent way to determine if an emergency response plan will work in the event of a real emergency. Karen also suggests having first-responders observe the drills and provide feedback afterwards.

Reviewing an emergency response can take time, but is crucial to ensure that the organization is well-prepared for potential hazards and emergencies. By performing these five techniques, organizations can not only help to mitigate the negative effects of an occupational safety crisis, but also indicate to their stakeholders that the health and safety of their human capital is a top priority.

To read the original OHS article written by Karen D. Hamel, please click here.

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