Prepare For The Next Crisis

EP Editorial Staff | June 12, 2020

Be ready for the next safety-related event by maintaining your emergency action plan.

By Shirley Wilkinson, Motion Industries

Emergency preparedness documents are, unfortunately, often not thought of until it’s too late. Being prepared with an emergency action plan, including specifics for different event types, helps ensure that all employees get through a crisis as safely as possible. In addition, the mere existence of such documents can provide constant peace of mind for everyone.

The following information is intended to help you establish a basic procedure for emergency preparedness and ensure that all relevant information concerning these situations is available to employees. It’s also recommended that you consult your Safety Committee before adding any new or changed directives.

Public emergency first responders have limited knowledge of your facility and its hazards. Therefore, it’s important to document information about your facility. That information is a vital part of helping first responders safely stabilize an incident.

Document Accessibility

It’s always best to review and/or update your emergency-preparedness documents on an annual basis, as well as after changes such as a building renovation. The emergency documents should be reviewed with new hires. Store your plan with other emergency-planning information, such as Safety Data Sheets, so that it is accessible to all employees.

Everyone in an office, warehouse, or manufacturing facility should be provided a copy of the emergency-preparedness plan and a facility layout. Facility layouts should have exit routes clearly marked, as well as access roads, parking areas, buildings, building entrances, emergency-equipment locations, and locations of controls for building utility and protection systems. Instructions for operating all systems and equipment should be accessible to emergency first responders. Any questions concerning these plans should be directed to the Environment, Health, and Safety (EH&S) and Human Resource managers.

Document Content

These items should be included in any emergency-preparedness plan:

Notifications: All employees should be familiar with alarms and communication systems. Review plans with staff to ensure they understand their role and can carry out assigned responsibilities. Conduct evacuation, sheltering, sheltering-in-place, and lockdown drills so employees will recognize the alarm sounds used to warn them.

Any employee, upon discovering an emergency situation, should immediately notify other employees in the area and relay any and all relevant information to the designated HR and/or EH&S person. Appropriate outside emergency first responders should be contacted as quickly and safely as possible, if required.

Evacuation: Include in the plan a policy that states all employees and visitors must evacuate the premises in case of fire or another emergency and follow specific instructions on where to exit and gather outside to facilitate an accurate head count. This system should provide warning for necessary emergency action and sufficient time for safe exit.

Every plan must provide clear visual information of the primary and secondary exit routes. This information should be posted generously throughout all facilities. All exits should remain unlocked and unobstructed during working hours.

Should evacuation be deemed necessary by the police, employees should follow these evacuation procedures:

• All employees should exit the building in a calm manner using the exit nearest to them.
• All employees should report to the designated area on the facilities layout.
• Department managers or their designees will be responsible for conducting a head count and reporting attendance to the Safety Committee. Also account for temporary personnel.
• If you suspect a co-worker is still in the building, report this to a member of the Safety Committee, who will inform the public emergency first responders.
• Remain at the designated gathering area until emergency first responders or authorized management announce that re-entry is safe.

In the event that a fire is discovered:

• If it is a very small fire, personnel who are trained in the use of fire extinguishers should attempt to extinguish it.
• If there is any doubt about extinguishing the fire, contact your security department and/or call 911.
• All employees should exit the building in a calm manner using the nearest exit.
• All employees should report to the appropriate emergency evacuation checkpoint.
• Department managers or their designees are responsible for taking a head count, including temporary personnel, and reporting attendance to the Safety Committee.
• Concerns that someone is still in the building should be reported to a member of the Safety Committee who will inform the fire department upon arrival.
• Employees should remain at the emergency-evacuation checkpoint until told it is safe to re-enter.

If severe weather conditions arise:

• The Safety Committee will monitor changing weather conditions.
• When the sirens sound or an announcement has been made, all employees are to evacuate to a designated safe area as shown on the visible/readily available facility layout.
• During severe weather warnings, authorized and trained employees will monitor National Weather Service broadcasts.
• Employees are to remain in the designated safe area until authorized personnel make an “all clear” announcement.

Injury: If an injury occurs, follow these guidelines:

• Depending on the severity, the appropriate person should call 911 to summon emergency medical technicians. In the case of severe injury—unconsciousness, blunt trauma, excessive bleeding, heart attack, etc.—this call will be made immediately.
• Someone should stay with the injured employee while first aid is being administered. Try to comfort the employee through the ordeal.
• Assist the first-aid responders and emergency medical technicians by giving a complete history of how the injury or accident occurred.

When emergency preparedness is involved, it is better to be proactive rather than reactive, whether an event is expected or not. Always expect the unexpected, with employee safety top of mind, by maintaining an updated, well-structured, accessible plan. EP

Shirley L. Wilkinson, QSSP, has served as Divisional Safety & Industrial Products Specialist at Motion Industries, Birmingham, AL (, for more than six years. Wilkinson’s certifications include but are not limited to: QSSP (Qualified Safety Sales Professional), OSHA 30, Competent Person Fall Protection; Forklift Train the Trainer; DOT HazMat; First Aid, CPR, AED; MSHA Parts 46 & 48; Six Sigma White Belt; and Respirator Qualitative Fit Test. For more information, visit the Motion Industries Safety Specialist website at:



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