As safety specialists, we must focus on prevention: being proactive prevents workers from being injured in the first place. With incentive programs under fire in recent years, there has been a push for firms to focus on leading indicators to evaluate our programs rather than the conventional trailing indicators (recordable rates, lost time incident rates, etc.). Despite this, accidents do occur. So, as safety professionals, what should we do to prepare for an accident or incident?
What does your Emergency Action Plan (EAP) recommend? What do you mean? You don’t have one, do you? So, it’s time to start writing. Every firm should have an EAP that addresses the most common types of problems.
What is your strategy for dealing with earthquakes? Is your place of business in a flood plain? How will you evacuate your personnel if necessary?In the event of a fire or a bomb threat, where do your employees go? And what about smaller-scale events?
Is 9-1-1 available where you are, or do you need to dial a different number? Is it possible to put other important numbers, like poison control, in a visible place?
There are numerous issues that must be answered in order to effectively construct an EAP, and having one person working on it may not be sufficient. Assign a committee to examine the work you do and your area (in terms of its history of natural disasters) to ensure that nothing is overlooked.
Keep in mind, however, that any health and safety program should be a living document. If you draft and release your EAP today but realize the next day that you forgot your site is downwind of a chemical manufacturing with massive stockpiles of ammonia gas, figure out how you’ll handle it if the plant has a disaster and include it in the plan.
Finally, practice. What good is a document if no one knows what it says? Your employees must understand what they are expected to do in the event of an emergency. Remember that in the best-case scenario, your people will rarely, if ever, be required to follow these processes in a real-world circumstance. That implies they’ll get rusty and forget what to do unless you refresh their memories on a regular basis. Drills are the most effective approach to transferring the plan from an abstraction on a whiteboard in a classroom to a real-life possible reality. Consider providing first aid, CPR, and AED training to your staff so that someone can begin care while waiting for expert help.
What happens if someone is hurt at your place of business? Some of you would say you’d start First Aid/CPR if necessary, which is fine, but what if the equipment wasn’t available? Assume you feared someone was about to go into cardiac arrest but the AED battery was dead (assuming you had an AED). Assume a worker was severely bleeding but no bandages could be found.
Involve the emergency services
If you work in an office building, getting an ambulance or fire truck to your location should be relatively simple. However, if you work in a manufacturing facility, on a construction site, or on a large campus, valuable minutes could be lost trying to get emergency personnel from your front door to where the injured or ill person is located.
Unfortunately, many businesses do not consider this until it is too late. Don’t be like such businesses. Invite a member of the fire department to your location instead. Do the same for your local fire department and police department. Make sure they get a thorough tour of the facilities and understand what could go wrong. Distribute maps – accurate, up-to-date maps – to assist them in getting to their destination.
This is especially critical if you work in a limited space. Determine whether the fire service performs rescue work and, if so, what processes you must take to guarantee they have you covered. Show them your limited space so they can make sure they have the necessary equipment to perform a rescue if the need arises.
Case management is critical once an incident happens. You should already be in contact with your worker’s compensation carrier. Develop this. You shouldn’t expect them to do all tasks. They do not know your employees as well as you do. Keep track of cases to ensure that they are resolved as soon as possible. Ensure that your carrier is aware of your return-to-work policies.
But, before you even think about insurance, you should build a relationship with your occupational clinic. Do you want everyone who passes through the door to be drug tested? Do you have any restricted duty openings?
These and other concerns should be discussed with your clinic before an employee enters their waiting room. If you don’t already have one, find an occupational clinic. You should not rely on hospital emergency rooms for minor workplace injuries. This is neither efficient nor cost-effective.