A quick response is critical in the event of a workplace emergency. Actions taken (or not taken) within the first few minutes of an unanticipated emergency event can sometimes mean the difference between saving a business, physical property, or even your employees’ lives.
Your team requires an HR emergency management plan to ensure that you make the “right” decisions. In this article, we’ll go over how to create an emergency management plan, what should be included in workplace policies and procedures, and the benefits of workplace emergency preparedness plans.
A written and practiced HR emergency plan is essential for ensuring that employees know what to do and how to react in unexpected situations. You can protect employees and reduce property damage by writing down what messages should be communicated, how they should be shared, and who is responsible for relaying messages.
A call for assistance to public emergency services that includes complete and accurate information will assist the dispatcher in sending the appropriate responders and equipment. An employee who has been trained to administer first aid or perform CPR can save a life. Employees who understand the building and process systems can help control a leak and reduce damage to the facility and the environment.
Aside from protecting people and property, implementing an HR emergency management plan has the following advantages:
It keeps employees informed about the proactive measures being taken to keep them safe.
It aids in the reduction of anxiety and fear.
It eliminates the uncertainty of where to go and what to do in the event of an emergency. When you share emergency plans during new hire orientations and ongoing “reviews,” your employees will be more likely to respond if they know the closest exits to their stations, who to contact within your facility in the event of an emergency, and which emergency numbers they should be aware of (in addition to 911).
It reduces the time it takes for first responders to respond.
It keeps losses at bay. Accounting and HR offices will know to close and lock their doors in emergencies that require evacuation (and in drills for practicing these evacuations) to prevent the theft of important information.
Here are the four steps required for creating and implementing a successful emergency preparedness plan, based on my experience as well as best practices and guidance.
First, make a list of any potential emergencies you may encounter. This will inform your resource requirements and assist you in developing your plan.
“Consider goals and objectives for managing risk, investing in resources, establishing capabilities through training and exercise, and complying with regulations,” according to Ready.gov. Consider both short-term program development goals and long-term goals that may necessitate more extensive planning or investment.”
These goals should be both long-term and short-term. The following are some examples:
Examining your current emergency preparedness program. (Short-term) Consultation with public emergency services and regulators. (Short-term) Adding a fire sprinkler system to your facility.
Conducting a full-scale emergency management program exercise involving public emergency services.
After you’ve determined your goals, you can start working on the specifics of your emergency plan.
You can have a great plan, but if no one is assigned to carry it out, it will fall apart. At the very least, ensure that you do the following:
Choose a group of people to act as a call/relay team. If an emergency alert is issued, these individuals are tasked with using the intercom to notify employees to evacuate the building.
Ensure that the facilities team is included in your emergency response. Your facilities team, in addition to internal staff and emergency responders, must be notified if an event occurs. For example, if a forklift collides with a pillar and causes a collapse, facilities personnel must be notified so that evacuation plans can be adjusted based on the building’s structure. (They are also most likely the only group that is familiar with structural information.)
Test your plan after you’ve established it and educated your team. I recommend testing your plan at least once a year, or whenever changes are made to the plan. In addition, all new hires should be required to review the emergency management plan.
To put your plan to the test, try to inform as few people as possible within your organization. The drill’s purpose is to highlight any gaps in your plan so that they can be addressed. However, you should inform emergency personnel and responders that this is only a drill. (Your local emergency responders can assist you with this; they may also have guidelines for you to follow when practicing your drills.)
Once your plan has been tested, make sure to evaluate the results and update the plan with any necessary corrective actions.
The following policies and procedures should be included in your emergency plan’s workplace policies and procedures:
A plan for IT to safeguard your company’s data. This should be more than just a backup server—ask your IT department to move data to the cloud so that if one (or more) servers fail, you can recover all of your data.
An up-to-date list of your employees’ emergency contacts. (Incorporate this into your new employee orientation and annual employee handbook review.)