Emergency Preparedness and Response

Taking the Pain Out of Weather Emergencies Preparation

Yesterday we shared some tips for preparing your workers for weather emergencies. Today we’ll look at some of the legal, management, and training issues involved with weather emergencies—and at a product that will walk you right through the preparation process.

Types of weather emergencies and natural disasters vary widely from one geographic area to another, but no spot is completely safe from the elements. And, although no one can control the forces of nature or prevent natural disaster, proper planning can help to prevent or contain damage and injuries.

Legal issues

BLR’s Safety Audit Checklists says that OSHA’s Emergency Action Plans standard (29 CFR 1910.38) requires affected employers to provide emergency escape procedures and evacuation routes, procedures for employees who remain behind to perform critical functions such as cutting off water and power supplies, procedures to account for all employees after evacuation, and assignments for employees performing rescue and medical duties.

In addition, OSHA requires employers to provide an ample number of clearly visible, unlocked exits to allow quick escape and a distinctive alarm system to warn of emergencies.


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Management Issues

A keen awareness of the types of weather emergencies you are likely to face can allow you to plan for them well in advance. And although it’s not possible to prevent bad weather or natural disasters, it is usually possible to predict them with some accuracy. This means that following updated weather forecasts continuously when an emergency threatens can allow you to implement emergency measures step-by-step, level-by-level, calmly, and
effectively.

Safety Management Checklists says that before natural disaster strikes, management must:

  • Make a plan.
  • Communicate the plan to employees.
  • Practice implementing the plan.
  • When an emergency is imminent, activate the appropriate alarm to notify employees.
  • Monitor evacuation and emergency shutdown procedures.
  • Account for all personnel.

Training Issues

In addition to recognizing various alarms and knowing the emergency evacuation procedures, all employees should be aware of the general hazards posed by every conceivable natural disaster, including these:

  • Earthquakes. This is one force of nature that cannot be predicted. The greatest hazard, of course, comes from falling walls, buildings, and other structures, as well as flying debris. Employees need to be aware, too, of the potential of fire (from ruptured gas lines) and electrocution (from downed power lines).
  • Floods. People may be caught in flash floods, trapped by rising water, or swept away in mud slides.
  • Hurricanes. Flooding, downed wires, and flying debris (such as broken glass) are common hazards.
  • Lightning. The electrical current can cause fire to structures and shock, burns, or death to people who are struck.
  • Blizzards. The greatest risks come from being trapped in a car or caught outdoors without adequate shelter. Frostbite is a hazard, and death from exposure is possible.
  • Tornadoes. With winds up to 350 miles per hour, a tornado can—and often does—devastate everything in its path. Survival may depend on secure shelter.

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Safety Management Checklists follows up this advice with a 44-point checklist that leads you through all aspects of weather emergency preparation, and a 10-question quiz to make sure the learning hits home.

All told, this best-selling program provides you with more than 300 separate safety checklists, keyed to three main criteria:

  • OSHA compliance checklists, built right from the government standards in such key areas as HazCom, lockout/tagout, electrical safety, and many more.
  • “Plaintiff attorney” checklists, built around those non-OSHA issues that often attract lawsuits.
  • Safety management checklists that monitor the administrative procedures you need to have for topics such as OSHA 300 Log maintenance, training program scheduling and recordkeeping, and OSHA-required employee notifications.

Make as many copies as needed for all your supervisors and managers, and distribute. What’s more, the entire program is updated annually. And the cost averages only about $1 a checklist.

If this method of ensuring a safer, more OSHA-compliant workplace interests you, we’ll be happy to make Safety Audit Checklists available for a no-cost, no-obligation, 30-day evaluation in your office. Just let us know, and we’ll be pleased to arrange it.

 

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