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AMiable Solution #279: In Case of Emergency

We don’t have the answers to the violence that has plagued our country, but we do have a question: how prepared is your office for an emergency?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all workplaces to create an emergency action plan that helps protect employees in case of a fire or other serious emergency. But it’s not enough just to have the plan. You have to communicate it, review it, and practice it. Providing regular training and drills will give you and your employees your best chance at survival.

According to OSHA’s Fact Sheet*, “Every employee needs to know details of the emergency action plan, including evacuation plans, alarm systems, reporting procedures for personnel, shutdown procedures, and types of potential emergencies. Any special hazards, such as flammable materials, toxic chemicals, radioactive sources or water-reactive substances, should be discussed with employees.”

The best way to do this? Provide training at least annually, and not just to new hires. In fact, OSHA recommends training employees when their jobs change; when new equipment, materials, or processes are introduced; when the layout of a facility changes; when the plan changes; and when “exercises show that employee performance is inadequate.”

Although OSHA exerts that drill should be conducted at least annually, more frequent practice runs will help make reactions more instinctual, a critical factor in the face of the unexpected.

In an emergency situation, you may not have much time to react. But planning and practicing the best exit routes; identifying and communicating the safest shelter-in-place locations and procedures; and regularly checking that all emergency alarms, routes, and doors are functioning and clear of obstacles will help reduce in-the-moment panic and uncertainty and improve the safety of all.

The odds of an emergency happening in your office seem to be on the rise. Plan ahead. Be safe.

* https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/factsheet-workplaceevergencies.html

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