Monday, November 6, 2017

IS YOUR WORKFORCE READY TO RESPOND TO AN EMERGENCY?

Canadian health & safety programs are designed to prevent injuries, illnesses, and property damage.  However, despite your best efforts, an emergency could occur at any time. Is your workforce ready?

Emergency preparedness ensures that your organization is ready to deal with sudden events.  The development of a written emergency response plan (ERP) is a vital part of the preparedness process - but there’s much more needed to be really ready.  

Here are some suggestions:

1. Make it a group effort.  It takes a lot of work to create a truly effective emergency response capability.  Form    an emergency planning group so that one person isn’t doing all the work.  Draw together participants from a cross-section of departments and levels in your organization.  Solicit support, and participation, from your            senior managers.


2.  Conduct a risk assessment.  Identify possible emergencies that could occur in your workplace.  Do this by touring the workplace and by talking to employees, supervisors and managers.  Then assess both the probability and the severity of each emergency.  You’ll end up with a list of emergencies ranked in order of risk.

3.  Prepare your workplace and your workforce.  Using the risk assessment results, start preparing for the high-risk emergencies first.  The emergency planning group should undertake or oversee preparedness tasks. 

-Write an ERP which describes the chain of command, procedures for initiating and executing emergency response procedures, emergency contact information and details about your workplace (e.g., site plans, chemical inventory lists, emergency exits and assembly areas, locations of firefighting equipment and other supplies). 

-Prepare the equipment, tools and supplies that will be needed in an emergency.  Assign them to dedicated storage locations so they’ll be ready when needed.  Identify external suppliers who can provide additional items during an emergency, and list their contact information in the ERP.

-Train everyone.  Different levels of training may be needed depending on each person’s role (e.g. commander, responder, assembly marshal, site security, evacuee).

-Share your ERP with the public emergency responders and your neighbours.

4.  Practice, practice, practice!  Organize exercises.  They provide practice for your workforce and will help debug your response procedures.  Exercises could entail “what-if” scenarios around the conference table, drills to practice specific response skills, or an all-out mock emergency using all necessary response resources.

5.  Keep everything up to date.  Change is constant.  Update your ERP whenever there are changes to emergency contacts, procedures, the work site, or other factors affecting the way your organization will respond to emergencies.  Back up changes with updated training and exercises.

Emergency preparedness is a critical part of your health & safety program.  Make sure that your workforce is ready to respond.

ERP Resources Available from CHEM Safety – Division of Escalade Services Group Inc. :

  • Emergency Response Planning Guide, Published by Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS), 2004, 150 pages.   Available from CHEM Safety for $15 per copy.

·         “Emergency Response Planning” e-Learning Course

·         “Emergency Preparedness for Workers” e-Learning Course

Contact Us at 1-866-374-1766 or (403) 818-8118

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