As a business owner, there is plenty to consider about your organisation. For instance, you have to think about how best to market your brand and its products and services. You need to make sure that your customers pay you on time. And you are responsible for the safety and welfare of your workforce.
You will no doubt have all those considerations under control. But, have you thought about what to do should there be an emergency situation at your business? The likely answer is “no.” Let’s face it; we can’t prepare ourselves for any potential situation!
While you can’t predict when things may happen, you can plan for most emergencies. So, how do you do that? Here’s what you need to do:
Understand the definition of a “workplace emergency”
First of all, you need to know the difference between an emergency and an event that isn’t one. Emergencies are unforeseen or unexpected situations. Examples of some workplace emergencies that could apply to your business include:
- “Acts of God” – flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes;
- Toxic gas releases and liquid chemical spills;
- Explosions; and
- Civil unrest and violence in the workplace.
That isn’t an exhaustive list of examples by any means. But, it gives you a good idea of what you should consider as an emergency. Today’s blog post is to help you plan and prepare for workplace emergencies like those.
Prepare in advance
Now that you know what an emergency is, you need to prepare for such events in advance. Why? The answer is simple. When an emergency happens for real, few people can think in a clear and logical manner at the time.
If you have a “drill”, it helps you to prepare for such situations in advance. That way, you know what to do rather than just panic! Of course, you may be wondering how you should prepare for an event that you don’t know might happen to you!
It makes sense to brainstorm a few scenarios with your colleagues. You need to think about worst-case scenarios at your premises. For instance:
- What would happen if a fire broke out in your server room or data centre?
- If you’re a parcel carrier, what would you do if you received a terrorist threat?
- If an earthquake destroyed your office, could you carry on the business from elsewhere?
- Would you know what to do if an armed siege was about to take place at your radio station?
Yes, I know; those situations might sound far-fetched. But, there is always a possibility that they could occur. And they might happen for any number of reasons. Your premises might be in an area prone to earthquakes. Or your industry could be at risk from terrorist activity.
It’s important to brainstorm some example scenarios, no matter how unlikely they might seem. That way, you can consider what to do about them should they occur.
What to include in your emergency situation action plan
By now, you are doubtless wondering what should get done in an emergency. When a situation threatens the lives of people in a building, the first thought is usually to exit it. But, that’s not always possible in all emergency situations.
So, you will need to draw up a plan of action and use it when an emergency occurs at your premises. Here is a sample of what your action plan must include:
- A method for reporting emergencies;
- An evacuation procedure;
- Emergency escape procedures, including floor plans and refuge areas;
- Emergency contact details for people in and outside of your company;
- Procedures to shut down mission-critical operations; and
- Rescue and medical tasks, and the staff assigned to carry them out.
As you can appreciate, a plan of action could become quite lengthy and exhaustive. It’s best only to tell people the sections of your plan relevant to them and their working areas.
Have you have worked through a plan of action? Good! Because the next step is to consider what you’ll do about critical incident management.
In layman’s terms, it refers to dealing with events at the time and after they occur. For example, let’s say an explosion happened at your building. The physical safety of your workers is important. Getting help to injured people will be a top priority at the time. But, there is also the psychological scars to consider too.
You need to check that everyone is OK both in a physical and mental capacity. And, after the event is over, it’s crucial to follow up people that may have got affected by the incident. Often, counselling is a must to help people cope with the events they saw.
Take steps to prevent emergency situations from happening
In a lot of cases, it’s possible to lower the risk of some events from happening to you and your business. I know that some things like natural disasters cannot get predicted. But, in other emergencies, some simple planning can even eradicate problems from occurring.
Let’s say that your retail business deals with high-end jewellery. As I’m sure you’ll appreciate, there’s a high risk of theft and fraud that can occur. Sure, a CCTV camera system can help you to “keep an eye” on your store. But, what other security measures have you got in place?
You might wish to keep only low-value items on display on the shop floor. High-value items could get kept in a vault encased in thick steel and concrete. Another idea is to have a safety barrier that drops down in an instant if an armed robbery were to take place.
Some jewellers have even taken the step of having visitors walk through a metal detector! There are plenty of ways to protect both your business and its employees.
You might not think it, but even small emergency situations can be a real threat to your business. They could even affect the lives of the loyal staff that work for you.
As a business owner, it’s crucial you take steps to mitigate those risks. Getting a plan of action in place to prepare for many scenarios is a brilliant way to do so.