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If you don't have an emergency plan in place you're putting your employees' health and safety at risk

by , 15 February 2013
Just days after the fire at ArcelorMittal's steel plant in Vanderbijlpark, comes news that a chemical laboratory in Kempton Park has had a fire emergency too. Just shows you how easy it is to have a fire in the workplace. That's why it's vital you have an emergency response plan in place to ensure the health and safety of your employees. Here's what the Department of Labour says it must contain.

'Emergencies don't come with a warning sign so you must be prepared!' warns the team of experts behind the Health and Safety Training Manual.
 
'By law you must provide and maintain a working environment that's safe and without risk to the health of your employees (Section 8.1 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993). Although an emergency plan isn't specifically mentioned in Section 8, the terms 'safe and without risk', indirectly implies that you must be prepared for all risks, including emergencies,' the team goes on to explain. 
 
If you don't have an emergency plan you'll land up in big trouble with the DoL!
 
Besides using an emergency plan to ensure the health and safety of your employees, if you don't have proof that you have one in place, you'll face penalties when the Department of Labour (DoL) comes knocking on your door!
 
The DoL will fine R200 per day (or a day in prison) for every day you don't have a plan in place, says the Health and Safety Training Manual.
 
Here's what you need to create an emergency response plan that'll pass the DoL test!
 
The Health and Safety Training Manualoutlines five steps to developing an emergency response plan.
 
1. You must conduct a risk assessment – this must be done when you start your business, every year thereafter and whenever there's been a change to the work environment that could increase or reduce the hazard in your workplace. 
 
2. Draw up your emergency response plan – once you've identified the risks, it's time to put an emergency plan in place. This plan must include a list of procedures for each emergency, evacuation routes, a map of locations of your company's emergency equipment, and the people responsible during the emergency. 
 
3. Train all your employees on the emergency procedures. This must include 'classroom training', re-training once a year for existing staff as well as emergency drills. 
 
4. Draw up a standard procedure for emergencies.After you appoint staff with tasks, draft a document detailing what they must actually do in an emergency. You must also have a Standard Procedure in place for employees that don't have specific emergency tasks, so they also know what to do. This document is called your Standard Procedure document.
 
5. Keep records and documents with details of your emergency response plan. Now that you've done your risk assessment and emergency response plan, you'll need to keep records of it. You'll also need to ensure it's up to date at all times and hang on to past emergency plans for three years. 
 
Don't let a workplace accident put the health and safety of your employees at risk. Set aside time to draw up your emergency plan today to ensure you're prepared when accidents happen. 

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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