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Your guide to handling workplace emergencies

While the risk of workplace emergencies will depend on your sector, industry, and work environment, it’s vital for all companies to implement emergency procedures in the workplace. As the saying ‘it’s better safe than sorry’ goes, it’s helpful to identify potential risks (no matter how small they may initially seem) and come up with a workplace emergency action plan in the event something unexpected occurs. Today’s Pacific Prime UK article tells you how to do so. 

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What are workplace emergencies? 

Workplace emergencies are events that pose danger to your staff, clients, or the general public; disrupt your workplace operations; or cause damage of some sort. When you think of workplace emergencies, you may think of explosions, severe weather, hazardous material spills, major power failures, etc. While these are all valid types of workplace emergencies, you should also not overlook medical emergencies or things like violence between staff and/or clients. 

Therefore, even if the industry, sector, or work environment your company operates in may not seem “risky”, it’s important to note that workplace emergencies can occur at any time. Understanding the different types of emergencies that are more likely in your workplace is the first step in being able to make robust plans to handle them. In general, there are three types of workplace emergencies:

Natural emergencies: These occur from natural risks, and can also affect logistical responses in the area. 

Work-related emergencies: These occur from the type of work being conducted, especially if the work involves manual labour, toxic substances, or heavy machinery. 

Civil and medical emergencies: These occur from civil factors that may arise from employee or client dissatisfaction, or any medical-related emergencies. 

Note: Given the impending return-to-work measures after COVID-19, you’re also advised to consider any additional health and safety risk that can result in a workplace emergency. 

Importance of a workplace emergency action plan 

Have you ever been in an emergency situation? In moments of panic and frenzy, it’s difficult to remain calm and make sound decisions. This is why having a workplace emergency action plan is important, as it’ll outline what to do in an emergency and more crucially, allow everyone in the workplace to be on the same page. As a result, the damage to staff, clients, and business can be minimized. 

How can you implement emergency procedures in the workplace?

To implement emergency procedures in the workplace, you’ll need a workplace emergency action plan – one that is specific to your workplace, as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all template. It’s advisable to set up a planning team, comprised of representatives from all departments. Doing so gives you a better insight into your company-wide operations, how they interplay with each other, and the overall risks involved. 

The planning team should assess each risk, including foreseeable and unforeseeable risks, and evaluate the company’s capabilities. Based on this, they should create a workplace emergency action plan, obtain the necessary equipment, train their staff on how to use the equipment, and communicate the plan. What’s more, they can test the plan via drills or simulation exercises, and improve the plan continuously. Plans should include the following elements:

Command structure

In the event of an emergency, who is the appointed coordinator? Having someone in charge prevents chaos during an emergency. This person will overlook the emergency response, communicate with internal and external emergency response teams, as well as ensure that the necessary areas are shut down and everyone is evacuated safely.

Notification methods 

When an emergency occurs, how will you inform all staff? Alarms can quickly communicate an emergency to all staff. That being said, you need to make sure staff are aware of what the alarm means and the actions it requires. For instance, fire requires staff to evacuate the building, but machinery breakdown may require them to lock down their area and stay put. 

Emergency equipment

If you need specialist equipment to respond to an emergency, do all staff know where these equipment are kept? Make sure all staff knows the location of fire extinguishers, fire alarm boxes, machine controls/shutoffs, chemical containment equipment, eye wash stations, first aid kits, and other equipment. What’s more, train staff on how to use these equipment.

Evacuation and assembly procedures

What are the evacuation and assembly procedures during an emergency (if any)? Detail the emergency exits, location of stairs, and any location where employees should gather and where the headcounts can be done in an emergency. Conducting drills of the evacuation may be a good idea to ensure the process occurs smoothly. 

Emergency response team

Who should your staff contact in case of an emergency? Be sure to list the numbers of the emergency response team in the workplace – both internal and external personnel, their roles, and backup teams in case the main ones are not reachable. These numbers should be on display next to the phones, including the numbers of local police, fire service, ambulance, etc.

Looking for insurance? Get in touch with Pacific Prime UK

Companies face a number of different risks on a day-to-day basis, some of them resulting in workplace emergencies like the ones mentioned above. To minimize the effects, it’s a good idea to consult a global insurance brokerage like Pacific Prime UK, as our expert advisors help you determine your business risks and implement the right corporate insurance solutions to protect you, your staff, and your company.

While we’re on the topic of health and safety, we can also help you design and implement a tailored group health insurance plan for your staff, as well as other health and wellness benefits. Not only will this ensure your team remains healthy, safe, and productive, but it can also enhance your reputation as being the employer of choice, and attract and retain the most talented staff.

To learn more about our corporate insurance and employee benefits solutions, please arrange a consultation with our corporate team

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