Emergencies in the workplace cannot be eliminated, but you should have an emergency action plan in place and have trained workers to respond quickly and appropriately. In an emergency an immediate and educated response can save individual lives, the business operation, and thousands of dollars in potential losses.
Gather emergency supplies for the workplace. Fire extinguishers should be charged and inspected monthly so they are always ready to use. Periodically test fire alarms, sprinklers, and emergency lighting. Keep flashlights, a radio, extra batteries, and a first aid kit on hand at all times. Consider stockpiling food, water, and blankets. Keep enough supplies for the number of workers that may need to shelter or work at your facility after a disaster. Make sure your staff understand company emergency communication and evacuation procedures.
Does everyone in the workplace know the procedures to follow in various emergency scenarios (e.g. fire, explosion, earthquake, chemical spill or workplace violence, etc.)?
Do workers know the escape routes and evacuations procedures including where to reassemble for a headcount or for further instruction?
Are emergency response phone numbers (fire department, ambulance, medical facility, etc.) clearly posted where they can be readily accessed?
Do workers know where emergency supplies are located?
Have workers practiced using the fire extinguishers so that they’re aware of their operation and limitations?
Are there workers trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid?
Does the worksite have first aid equipment which corresponds to the possible injuries workers may encounter? (e.g. emergency wash stations, personal protective equipment, oxygen tanks, ice packs, etc.)
The best way to survive an earthquake, or any other emergency, safely is to prepare, plan, and practice.
Ensure that fire protection equipment (i.e., sprinklers, smoke/heat detectors, alarms, fire hoses, fire extinguishers, and fire blankets) are maintained, available for use, and not impaired or concealed. Make sure fire extinguishers correspond to the potential risk.
Report a fire, even if it seems minor. Fire fighters would rather arrive and find nothing to do than be called after it’s too late to save individuals or property. Keep in mind that all workers are responsible for preventing fires, but not everyone is expected to fight major fires. Fire fighting is best handled by trained professionals.
Finally, practice and train on your emergency procedures. Practice emergency evacuations. Get training on first aid and CPR techniques. Disasters aren’t planned, but you can plan and practice to survive.