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This article describes the responsibilities of organisational leaders to have an emergency plan in place to help raise awareness, strengthen the response possibilities of communities and reduce the impact of an emergency crisis.
Why Business Owners Need to Prepare for any Emergency
All small to medium business owners in Australia should be trying to prepare for any emergency which could affect their daily operations and put their employees in danger. Emergency plans and procedures to be applied in case of fires, hazardous substances spills, weather events, floods and other critical situations must be compliant with the current Australian regulations regarding safety in the workplace.
Precautions business owners can take to protect their employees
Whether you own a catering business, a child care facility, a hotel, a digital marketing company or an interior design studio, as a business owner, there are some precautionary measures you can take to protect your business:
- Make sure you clearly understand the threats to your company and the potential costs of responding to them
- Make sure your employees receive proper emergency preparedness information through emails, intranet, newsletters, or any other type of corporate communication.
- Collaboration and good communication are essential for ensuring a coordinated response to any kind of emergency. So, make sure people in your organisation function as a team where each member knows their role in case of an emergency crisis.
- Talk to employees with disabilities to make sure their particular needs are fulfilled in case of a disaster
- Your staff needs to be trained. Training exercises will help you understand what procedures work and what are the emergency actions that still need adjustment.
What is an emergency action plan?
According to Business.gov.au, an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is the written document which addresses emergencies that might appear in the workplace and the procedures that must be followed under such circumstances. The EAP must be kept in writing in the workplace so that all employees can consult it at any time. The emergency continuity plan, the emergency recovery plan, and the EAP are all parts of the emergency management plan.
What should be included in an emergency plan?
A good emergency plan includes the following:
- A correct assessment of the hazards and risks your business is subject to.
- Ways to reduce these risks and hazards
- Proper management of the resources available in case such extreme conditions should be dealt with
- Establishing business continuity processes
- Procedures for reporting an emergency
- Procedures for emergency evacuations, including exit routes. Colour coding helps employees to find the right exit quickly
- Floor plans with clearly indicated emergency escape routes
- plant power supplies, plant water supplies that can’t be shut down immediately or need to be discontinued in stages
- A detailed list of personnel, including their names, job titles, home telephone numbers, their duties and responsibilities.
- Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation
- Procedures to be followed by employees performing rescue or medical duties
- An employee alarm system detained and controlled by the employer
- An adequate number of wardens (one for every twenty employees is recommended)
- Employers must make sure all employees know the details of the EAP.
- Whenever the plan changes or the role of an employee is changed, the employee should be notified.
A poorly prepared plan will likely lead to a disorganised evacuation or emergency response, resulting in confusion, injury, and property damage. That is why, in case of emergency, employees need to know exactly what to do in order to survive and help others. After having been created, the emergency plan needs to be tested, evaluated and adjusted according to results.
According to Business.gov.au, these details should be checked during your test:
- Does everybody in your staff know their role and their responsibilities in case of emergencies?
- The emergency response team can be alerted to respond at any time, even in the middle of the night?
- Are all the team members aware of the location of the emergency kit? Is this clearly visible and labelled accordingly?
An essential point for the success of a safety operation is knowing your audience so that you can address them the right message in the most efficient way.
The message you send to your low-level employees and your management staff may be different than the message sent to your on-site and off-site workers, suppliers, media etc. For example, in case of emergency, a school will send different messages in a different tone to school staff and parents or students,
To keep organisations connected and alert in crises, many companies use an emergency alert software with instant mass communication capabilities, which can be a life-saver.
What are the three steps for responding to an emergency?
The three necessary emergency action steps to follow to take appropriate actions in an emergency are Check-Call-Care:
- Check the scene for any dangers to yourself or the victims. Put yourself and the others in a safe place, then check their consciousness and breathing and look for other apparent problems.
- Call the local emergency number to activate the EMS system. You can do this while checking for safety and the victim’s condition.
- Provide care to those in need. This might involve performing CPR and other first aid, as needed. If you are on the line with the dispatcher, they will talk you through any first aid required.
According to SafeWorkAustralia.gov, business owners should provide workers with first aid equipment/kits and facilities according to the type of work, the hazards, the number of the employees, the size and location of the workplace.
First aid kits should be held close to the areas where injuries may occur and should contain at least the basic first aid equipment, and even extra equipment
depending on the nature of the company and the activities involved. A first aid room may also be necessary, depending on the first aid risk assessment.
One first aider should be available:
- For every 50 workers in low-risk workplaces (in an office)
- For every 25 workers in high-risk workplaces (on a construction site)
- For every ten workers in remote, high-risk workplaces (a mine).
In short, emergency planning includes all preventive actions, safety procedures, necessary resources and ways to deal with adverse situations in order to maintain positive control, to prevent human and material losses. The purpose of emergency planning is to reduce the effect of destruction caused by unexpected situations like accidents, fire hazards, hurricanes, or hazardous substances spills.
Best practices should always include careful assessment of the dangers that might arise at the workplace, resource management, emergency planning, implementation, testing & exercises and program improvement.
To use our infographic, please use the following link https://www.safetygraphics.com.au/?attachment_id=2260