Weekly Safety Meeting – Knowing What to do in an Emergency

When dealing with workplace safety, most of us focus on preventing injuries and incidents.

However, training in accident prevention as well as emergency situations are both critical parts of an effective safety program. No one wants to think of something bad happening at work, but emergencies in the workplace are inevitable.

When an emergency does occur, you need to be prepared for it. Having an Emergency Action Plan, or EAP, in place prevents a bad situation from becoming worse.

Management commitment to safety and worker involvement are essential components of an effective EAP. The action plan should be explained to workers and reviewed whenever the plan or worker responsibilities change.

By being proactive and training workers to respond quickly and appropriately during emergencies, you can optimize efficiency, relieve anxiety, and in some cases, save lives.

Emergency Situations in the Workplace

Many different kinds of emergency situations can occur in a workplace. Factors such as the work being performed, workplace setup, the business’s geographical area, and products kept on-site will impact what kind of emergencies could arise.

Some common types of emergency situations that should be considered when discussing emergency response are:

  • Medical emergencies such as heart attack or stroke;
  • Caught-in or between moving equipment;
  • Electrical-related incidents;
  • Fires; and
  • Weather-related disasters.

Emergency Response:

Obviously, different types of emergencies elicit different responses. Even similar types of emergencies may require completely different responses depending on the situation and circumstances. Some things to consider when discussing emergency response in the workplace are:

• Before helping a victim of an incident or before assisting in an emergency, always ensure it is safe for you to do so. Sometimes the best plan is just to get to safety. An event such as a failed confined space rescue resulting in multiple fatalities is an example of making a bad situation worse by trying to help.

  • Do not overreact. Rushing or making poor choices when dealing with an emergency can result in more victims or create a worse situation in general.
  • Understand your company’s policies and procedures regarding specific weather emergencies such as a tornado or flood.
  • Know where emergency meeting points are at your worksite. Also be familiar with the address of a jobsite or for your workplace. If you have to call 911, one of the first questions they ask is- “Where are you located?”
  • Know where emergency response equipment is located onsite and how to use it. Also be familiar with emergency shutoff switches on equipment or machinery.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of common medical emergencies and medical emergencies that can occur in your workplace. Knowing what to look for can make the difference in whether someone gets the medical attention they need or not.


Knowing what to do in an emergency is just as important as knowing how to prevent it from happening in the first place. All too often bad situations are made worse when individuals are ill- prepared for inevitable injuries or incidents, whether at work or home. Taking company policies and procedures regarding emergency response seriously, knowing how to respond to an emergency, and staying calm may save your life or those around you one day.

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