Talk to your people about emergency preparedness. Make sure that they know all about your emergency plans and that all their questions are answered. Guarantee they’ll be ready to act.
One of the best ways to ensure safety in a workplace emergency and a quick recovery after, says ready.gov, is to communicate regularly with employees before, during, and after an incident. Here’s what ready.gov suggests you do now:
Involve employees from all levels in emergency planning.
- Use newsletters, intranets, safety meetings, and other internal communication tools to communicate emergency plans and procedures.
- Plan how you’ll communicate with people who are hearing-impaired, have other disabilities, or don’t speak English.
- Consider setting up a telephone call tree, password-protected page on the company website, e-mail alert, or call-in voice recording to communicate with employees in an emergency.
- Designate an out-of-town phone number where employees can leave an "I’m OK" message in a catastrophic disaster.
- Encourage employees to have alternate means and routes for getting to and from work in case roads are impassable and public transportation is interrupted.
- Keep a record of employee emergency contact information with other important documents in your emergency kit and at an off-site location.
- If you rent, lease, or share space with other businesses, communicate, share, and coordinate evacuation procedures and other emergency plans.
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Practice Your Plan
Go beyond planning, stresses ready.gov, and frequently practice what you intend to do during a disaster. Just as your business changes day to day, so should your plan. Drills and exercises will help you prepare.
- If you rent, lease, or share office space, coordinate and practice evacuation and other emergency plans with other businesses in your building or facility.
- Conduct regularly scheduled education and training seminars to provide employees with information, identify needs, and develop preparedness skills.
- Include preparedness training in new employee orientation programs.
- Give employees emergency checklists with all the information they need to know about effective response.
- Do tabletop exercises with members of the emergency management team. Meet in a conference room setting to discuss individual responsibilities and how each would react to emergency scenarios.
- Schedule walk-through drills where the emergency management team and response teams actually perform their designated emergency functions. This activity generally involves more people and is more thorough than a tabletop exercise.
- Practice evacuating and finding shelter. Have all personnel walk the evacuation route to a designated area where procedures for accounting for all personnel are tested. Practice your "shelter-in-place" plan.
- Evaluate and revise processes and procedures based on lessons learned in training and exercise.
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Crisis Communication Plan
Another important recommendation from ready.gov is to spell out how your organization plans to communicate with employees, local authorities, customers, and others during and after a disaster.
Be prepared to provide employees with information on when, if, and how to report to work following an emergency (for example, the call-tree or voice mail message mentioned above).
- Be clear about how employees’ jobs may be affected.
- Provide top company executives with all relevant information needed for the protection of employees, customers, vendors, and nearby facilities.
- Update your customers on whether and when products will be received and services rendered.
- Be prepared to give competing and neighboring companies a prompt briefing on the nature of the emergency so they may be able to assess their own threat levels.
Tomorrow, we feature more essential information about emergency planning and response, and explain how Safety Audit Checklists can help improve preparedness in your workplace.
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