Emergency Preparation: Is your Workplace Ready for an Emergency?

In New Zealand we are faced with many risks both work related and personally when a disaster may hit our workplace, homes and loved ones. This may come in many forms such as an earthquake as we have seen in Christchurch and Kaikoura, from an on-road accident or an accident in the workplace. When you compare our country with other OECD countries, you will find in most cases we have a higher risk of a serious event happening which will cause fatalities, injuries, and serious disruption to you, your workers and your business. This begs the question of emergency preparedness; specifically, how to prepare for an emergency in your workplace.

There are many emergencies that require preparedness and planning. Fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, on road accidents, a medical event, an incident involving violence, or a workplace accident – these are all emergencies, and all workplaces should be prepared to deal with an emergency of any nature, at any time.

The Best Time to Respond to an Emergency is Before it Happens
The saying goes, “Fail to plan; plan to fail,” and it applies to emergency preparedness and response. Having a plan in place to deal with emergencies and ensuring that all workers are aware of it and trained on it, is one of the best things that your company can do to prepare to deal with an emergency. Below, we’ve listed some tips for emergency planning and preparedness in the workplace:

  1. Develop a plan that takes all emergencies into consideration:
    Include policies and procedures for worker safety. Consider a spill response plan if your company houses, uses, or transports dangerous chemicals, or a lockdown procedure in case of a violent event should you be handling cash or dealing with children. This plan should also include contingency plans that deal with potential damage to facilities, and how employees, vendors and customers will be handled during and after the event. Be sure to include a chain of command and ensure all workers know from whom to expect communication in the event of an emergency.
  2. Train all affected workers, sub-contractors and anyone else who may be affected:
    What good is an emergency response plan if no one knows about it, or what it contains? Training is a crucial part of any plans success. Communicate the plan with everybody, and ensure that everybody understands the roles, responsibilities, and expectations for every employee – from manager down to worker.
  3. Review the plan and update as often as required:
    Best practice stipulates that all workplace policies and procedures should be reviewed at least annually to ensure that any changes to the business in the past year are addressed and/or still applicable. If a change is made to the workplace that drastically affects the plan, it should be reviewed at that time and updated to reflect the change.

All workplaces are required to provide some level of first aid to their workers. First aid helps injured workers to receive limited medical attention in case of an emergency that can help minimise their injuries and bring comfort.

Having a plan in place and following it when the time comes will mitigate the damage to your business and hopefully reduce or completely avoid injury or fatality to your workforce. It may also help you get back to business sooner, which is important for your bottom line.

If you need assistance to formulate your emergency plan, give SBS a call on 0508424723 or email info@safebusiness.co.nz.