Is your business prepared for workplace emergencies? As vaccination rates increase and your business reopens with customers and employees returning to shops, offices, and worksites, it may be time to refresh your emergency plans and protocols. Here are a few ideas to help you plan for emergencies at work, whether it’s a COVID exposure, a fire, a flood, a chemical spill, or major power outage.
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How can employers prepare for emergencies at work?
To prepare for emergencies at work, you first need an Emergency Action Plan. This plan helps you document your business’s emergency procedures so your staff can plan ahead. It covers evacuation plans, emergency contact information, fire extinguisher policy, and more. It is a good idea to maintain a written plan and keep it updated, whether or not it is required by law.
Your emergency planning should also include a Business Contingency Plan. This document outlines the steps needed to ensure your business can continue to operate after a disaster, even if facilities remain inaccessible or personnel cannot perform their work.
Once you have a plan, make sure your employees know where it is and what it contains. Training and practice will help everyone know what to do if an emergency occurs. Review your plan on a regular basis to ensure everyone understands the policies and procedures contained within it.
What are examples of workplace emergencies?
There are many types of emergencies that can occur in the workplace. The three main types are:
Natural disasters, including storms, floods, earthquakes, and fires, can pose a serious problem for your team. This is the hardest type of emergency to plan for, because they often occur without warning. Your preparedness plan needs to take this into consideration so you can act quickly when an emergency happens.
Accidents, chemical spills, machinery problems, technology outages, gas releases, explosions, and other mishaps are regular occurrences in the workplace. These are business-specific and will depend on the type of work you perform, so assess your needs and set up your plan accordingly.
Civil emergencies stem from state activity or unrest, like worker strikes or protests. Some of the recent coronavirus-related shutdowns and protests could be considered this type of emergency if violence ensues and workers must evacuate or make special plans for safety reasons.
How do I create an Emergency Action Plan for my business?
An Emergency Action Plan requires your business to analyze the risks you face in day-to-day operations. This includes risks for natural disasters and for business-related emergencies. Then, you must outline what you want your business and employees to do to handle an emergency. Finally, you need to make an easy-to-follow document that outlines those procedures.
State or federal law may sometimes dictate the steps to take in the event of an emergency. You may want to consult with a business lawyer as you make your Emergency Action Plan. Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorneys are available to answer your questions. You can reach out to a lawyer right from the document you are creating.
How often should I update my workplace Emergency Action Plan?
Business emergency plans should undergo a review every year. They may not need annual updates, but a regular review ensures they meet your changing business needs. You may update or amend the plan if you find errors or missing policies or information. These documents are fluid as the demands and responsibilities of a business constantly change.
Emergencies will happen. The coronavirus showed us that the unexpected can have long-term consequences. It is up to the business owner and office manager to ensure that a plan is in place to ensure a thriving business, even in an emergency.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.