There is one safety and health related activity that every organization within every industry must engage in; it is identifying the potential for and responding to injury and or emergency response situations. Furthermore, an organization must do what it can to prevent and mitigate the employee Safety Management System and health impacts that may be associated with them.
But, what is an emergency? How is an emergency defined? An emergency can be defined this way: “Associated with incidents that may have an impact on employee safety and health”. Seems simple enough. The point is that the organization will illustrate what they deem is an emergency related event by going through a process to do so.
Although this process is typically addressed through conventional site specific emergency response plans, this element also requires that a process exist for actually identifying potential emergency situations, in addition to planning and mitigating them. The type of emergency incidents includes those that may not be regulated by local jurisdiction, but may still cause significant impact to the safety and well-being of workers, contractors and visitors as defined by the organization.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE
As part of continual improvement, an organization shall review their emergency procedures and make improvements as necessary based upon drills and exercises.
As explained earlier, an organization must identify and document the potential for injury incidents and emergency situations. An organization must ensure that those injury and emergency situations determined to be most likely to occur are specifically addressed in the facilities various emergency response plans (ERP’s) and Safety Management System procedures.
One way to capture the type of injury incidents and emergency situations is to create a ‘List of Potential Injury and Emergency Situations’. The potential for injury and emergency situations is identified through the facilities program of daily inspections, weekly inspections, internal safety audits, regulatory compliance audits, safety inspections, and inspections by other industry professionals.
Here is a simple example of a ‘List of Potential Injury and Emergency Situations’:
Note: Likely, Possible or Unlikely are the choices to determine potential injury and emergency situations based upon historical event or non-event information.
As mentioned earlier, an organization will conduct a drill or exercise on the real threat of emergency situations that they had identified. What is the difference between a drill and an exercise? A drill will test only a few sections of emergency procedure such as communication and response time. On the other hand, an exercise will test all the sections of an emergency procedure including rescue.
When an organization conducts a drill and or exercise, it must record the results of it. An ‘Emergency Preparedness and Response -Review and Test Report’ would become a record once it is filled out and must be treated accordingly for filing purposes.
In conclusion, emergency preparedness and response is something every employer, every worker, contractor and visitor must think about while at work? Knowing what to do in advance of an emergency situation is much better than having an emergency situation and not knowing what to do or not to do, where to go and where not to go. Have a plan, practice the plan or plan to fail.