The tornado that struck Oklahoma in the US carved a wide path roughly a kilometre across, destroying everything it passed. While we have less threat of natural disasters like tornadoes in South Africa than in the US, a natural disaster can strike at any time. That's why it's so important to have an emergency evacuation plan in place. But don't forget that you need to have TWO emergency evacuation plans - one for getting your employees out of the building safety, and one for cases where the threat to their health and safety is outside...
The world's been glued to news of the Oklahoma tornado this week, which has left many dead, hundreds injured and lots of destruction in its wake, says TheBBC
Rescue workers are now concluding their search for survivors.
Those who did survive hid in cupboards if they didn't have reinforced storm shelters or 'safe rooms' to hide in, says CBC
And while we have less risk of this type of natural disaster in South Africa, remember that emergencies and disasters can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere.
That's why, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it's your responsibility as the health and safety professional for your company to ensure the safety of your employees.
Implement an emergency preparedness and response plan so your employees know how to safely evacuate when there's an emergency
One of the best ways to do so is to implement an emergency preparedness and response plan, says Kerusha Narothan, managing editor of the Health and Safety Training Manual
This is a plan of action to manage and prevent harm to people when an emergency arises, as emergencies don't come with a warning sign, says FSPBusiness.
But having just one evacuation plan as part of your overall emergency response plan isn't enough: You need to develop two types of evacuation plans, says The Health and Safety Advisor.
Make sure your employees understand there're two types of evacuation plans!
The first type of evacuation plan is the more well-known one, where employees must be moved out your building as fast as possible if a fire breaks out or if there's a bomb scare in the building.
But don't forget there are certain emergencies where your employees must be kept in your building, such as during civil unrest, says The Health and Safety Advisor
, or if there's a weather disaster that would affect their health and safety.
If you need your employees to stay indoors to keep them safe, you'll need to move them to safe areas in your building.
These safe areas will be away from the windows that could shatter.
Once in the safe area, remember to take roll call to check that you're not missing any of your employees.
It's one way to guarantee their safety if a natural disaster hits during office hours.
Turn to chapter E02 of your Health and Safety Training Manual
to get a step-by-step training module on how you can create an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan and train your employees on it.