If you’ve ever been the first one on the scene at an automobile accident or have been working next to someone who had a traumatic injury at work, then you know how important it is to know what to do.
So often in the stress of the situation we forget some of the basics. This can be such a stressful time and your desire to help in a hurry mysteriously “fogs” your brain of the basics. That’s why it is so important to know some of the basics of emergency response.
Emergencies can create a variety of hazards for workers in the impacted area. Preparing before an emergency incident plays a vital role in ensuring that employers and workers have the necessary equipment, know where to go, and know how to keep themselves safe when an emergency occurs.
Identifying Potential Hazards:
As with most safety-related issues, the first step toward emergency preparedness is identifying the most obvious risks in your work area. For example, one thing that we can all be on the lookout for is electrical hazards. Electrical problems are among the main sources of workplace fires. As a rule of thumb, always check electrical equipment before you use it. If you spot a problem, have it corrected immediately.
Some other common hazards are related to chemicals. Be familiar with any substance in your work area that might be:
- Flammable – If there are flammables in your area, make sure you know the circumstances which may cause them to ignite.
- Explosive – Certain vapors and dusts can cause serious explosions when they come into contact with other substances.
- Reactive – Some substances are safe until they come into contact with others. Make sure you’re familiar with the types of reactions that could cause problems in you work area.
Emergency Action Plan:
- The purpose of an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. The elements of the plan should include, but are not limited to:
- Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments;
- Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate;
- Procedures to account for all employees after an emergency evacuation has been completed;
- Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them;
- Means of reporting fires and other emergencies; and
- Names or job titles of persons who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan.
If an Emergency Does Occur:
Because no two emergencies or emergency situations are exactly alike, I can’t give you complete details on what to do in every emergency. Sometimes common sense applies. But what I can do is give you some general pointers about what to do in an emergency.
- First, make sure you know how to report an emergency. This could be a fire, a chemical spill, an explosion, or some other type of incident.
- If someone else spots the emergency, you’ve got to know how to react to our alarm. A true emergency calls for evacuation. Make sure you know how to get out of the building safely and help others to do the same. Once you’re out, it is very important that you go directly to your assigned meeting place.
- Some of you may also have specific jobs in emergencies. We’re counting on you to stay in control and perform these tasks before getting out of the building.
In some emergency situations it is necessary to exit affected buildings and/or work areas to an on-site location. Evacuation must be performed in an orderly manner. Employees should be sure to guide any visitors to the evacuation area.
The following guidelines will be followed during an on-site evacuation:
Employees should immediately proceed to the primary assembly area located at: _________________________________.
If the primary assembly location is unsafe, then employees should proceed to the alternate assembly area located at: ______________________________.
Your safety, and the safety of others, relies on your ability to respond calmly and appropriately in the event of an emergency. If you are unsure of your role and responsibilities during an emergency situation, see your supervisor immediately.
“There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.” – Stephen King
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