September is National Preparedness Month, which encourages individuals and businesses alike to prepare for emergency situations, disasters and health risks that could occur in their everyday environments. Emergencies and disasters can happen when they are least expected. Therefore, it is crucial for employees to be prepared for a variety of workplace emergencies (e.g., fires, chemical spills and natural disasters) to keep everyone safe.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employees like you should be aware of the following workplace emergency response information:
- Protocols for reporting fires and other workplace emergencies
- Evacuation procedures and escape route assignments
- Special procedures for shutting down critical operations (if applicable)
- Emergency rescue and medical duties (if applicable)
- Next steps after an evacuation
When developing emergency plans, OSHA recommends that employers appoint an emergency response coordinator. If you are given this role in the workplace, you may be tasked with the following duties:
- Determining potential emergencies and the necessary precautions for them
- Leading a range of emergency response activities
- Ensuring external services (e.g., the fire department or law enforcement) are properly notified when an emergency occurs
- Directing workplace shutdowns (if necessary)
Emergency response coordinators should also be trained on how to respond to different hazards. Training topics may include fire extinguisher operations, first aid, CPR, chemical spill protocols and search-and-rescue procedures.
Overall, all employees must be aware of the types of emergencies that could impact the workplace and know how to respond to these incidents safely. For more information on preparing for emergencies at your workplace, consult your supervisor.