Do you know if your Emergency Response Plan will work in an emergency event?
What is emergency response in a workplace? Is this just in the event of a fire? Emergency Response is not just in the event of a fire or natural disaster its all emergency situations your business might face whether its on site or off site. This includes a Medical Emergency.
Depending on your business, depends on the type of emergency plan required. An office based company vs a manufacturing plant would have different requirements, different scenarios and different risks. I worked in an office situation in Brisbane CBD, were were on the 9th floor of the building and every week the alarms would be tested and everyone was happy. It wasn’t until there was an emergency where the office had to be evacuated that we come unstuck. The office was evacuated via the stairs but all personnel did not muster at the muster points. So the wardens had no idea if everyone was accounted for. Myself at the time was off site and when I arrived back at the building I accessed the floor and wondered why there was no one there and then decided to leave again once I smelt smoke. I wasn’t in danger as it had been controlled at this point (small electrical ceiling fire) but I should have still not been able to access the office via the lifts.
Unless your site Emergency Plan is tested, how do you know in the event of a emergency whether it be fire or a medical emergency that the outcome will be positive.
A while ago I worked for a company that conducted confined space activities. It was decided to get the local fire crews in to run a mock exercise for everyone on site and all emergency services to test our plans and test the plans of the local response crews. This was a great initiative to see where the pitfalls are and how to improve. It also helped the local services become familiar with our business and the equipment. So the mock exercise was 3 injured workers in a confined space who were performing hot work activities. The summary of the exercise is if it was real life, the 3 workers would have died. There were many issues flagged during the drill for all involved, but surprisingly the fire departments response and handling of the situation was not sufficient. This was no reflection on the fire department but more so around access and familiarity of our facilities. This was a great exercise that was able to identify a number of improvements needed to ensure in the event of this emergency the outcome would be a positive one.
Whether you are a small office or a large organisation it is so important that emergency plans exist, but even more important that these are tested, otherwise they are as useful as the paper they are written on.
Some key points (but not limited to) to think about when putting together your emergency plan
- Types of emergencies
- Who are the designated wardens and first aiders on site
- Who need to be contacted in an emergency eg local authorities, management etc
- How do you account for all on site including visitors
- If large quantities of gas or fuels stored on site, think about how these can be isolated safely
- How to deal with media
- Have a plan of where everyone is to assemble
- Ensure notification of an incident is able to be heard or seen by all on site
- Frequency of testing the plan and review
- Location of fire fighting equipment
And much much more!!!
I have also formed an alliance with Julie Russell from Arjay Evacuation and Emergency. Although I am able to provide advice in this area Arjay Evacuation and Emergency provides services to ensure your business is compliant with the Work Health and Safety Act, Fire Regulations and Building Code (Queensland).
Their services in this area include Fire and Emergency Evacuation Management Audits, Plans and Training.