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Do you have an emergency response plan in place for unexpected accidents in the workplace?

by , 08 April 2013
'Nine cleaning staff were injured when a lift at Parliament's four-storey Marks Building malfunctioned and dropped on Friday night,' reports IOL. While this is a pretty unusual workplace accident, it could happen to anyone. And that's why you need to ensure you have an emergency response plan in place to protect the health and safety of your employees. Here's how to draw one up...

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it's your responsibility as the employer to 'provide and maintain (as far as is reasonably practicable) a safe working environment for your employees that's without risk'.

This includes being prepared for emergencies! And it's why having an emergency response plan in your company is essential to protecting your employee's health and safety from accidents in the workplace.

But do you know how to draw one up? Use these eight steps outlined by the Health and Safety Advisor as your guide...

Your eight step guide to drawing up an emergency response plan

Step #1: Assess all areas that present a potential workplace emergency. This should include potential hazards like fire, explosions, power outages, machinery, etc.

Step #2: Appoint people in your company who'll be responsible for certain activities like first aid, security or fire fighting.

Step #3: Collect and display emergency contact information and keep it up to date.

Step #4: Write up an emergency equipment location flowchart and display this in your company. Your flowchart should show evacuation routes, assembly points, first aid stations and where your fire fighting equipment is stored.

Step #6: Identify safe areas where your employees will assemble when there's an emergency in the workplace. Make sure your employees know where these are.

Step #7: Train your employees so they know how to implement your emergency response plan effectively if there's an accident. They need to know exactly what you'll require them to do in a workplace emergency. Conduct drills every three to four months and do a post-mortem analysis of these drills to ensure it's effective. Also, make sure your appointed emergency staff know what their roles are and get them to practise.

Step #8: Ask your local fire department to evaluate your emergency response plan. 'The local fire department and emergency services (ambulance etc.) should take part in at least one drill a year,' advises Occupational Health and Safety Expert Michelle Bowmer in the Health and Safety Advisor. 'This will keep them informed (about changes, chemicals, gases, flammables, etc. on your site) and you'll be able to measure the time limits for their response to you in an emergency.'

Bottom line: Accidents happen! That's why it's important you know what steps you need to take to safeguard your employees' health and safety when they do. Having a comprehensive emergency response plan in place is your first step to doing just that.

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.

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