During a disaster or emergency situation, the first priority is to ensure the safety of employees and other individuals who are in the facility at the time. In the case of a fire, an immediate evacuation may be necessary.
To protect your employees and others in your facility, a detailed evacuation plan should:
• identify who has the authority to order an evacuation and under what conditions an evacuation will be ordered.
• designate primary and secondary evacuation routes. Be sure that the routes can accommodate all personnel and are not likely to expose your employees to additional hazards. Evacuation routes and maps, which should be reviewed with all employees, should be posted in conspicuous places in each facility.
• recognize that some emergencies will require that employees seek shelter, whether in the workplace or outside the workplace. Procedures should be in place which outline when shelter should be sought, where shelter is located and what items will be maintained there.
• system for providing transportation for employees in the event an evacuation occurs.
• procedures for notifying the appropriate authorities like fire, police, ambulance, etc.
• system of accounting for employees and other individuals in the building once the evacuation occurs. Remember to also consider the needs of persons with disabilities. The Planning Team should be notified of anyone who cannot be accounted for, including names and last known location.
• listing of assignments of personnel required to continue necessary business operations or to shut down operations. Make sure personnel know when to abandon the operation and evacuate.
• list of those designated to establish return to work schedules.
• training in evacuation and shelter procedures for all individuals. Training should be conducted for all new hires, and at least annually for current staff or whenever procedures have been revised or updated. More intensive training should be provided to the Planning Team, including: possible emergencies and emergency actions and clear instructions on when to intervene and when it is not safe to intervene e.g., small fire vs. large fire. Planning Team members should not intervene if there is a possibility of receiving fatal or incapacitating injuries.
• drills to be conducted at least annually and should include other businesses that are housed in your building.
An Emergency Plan should provide procedures that will help protect facilities, equipment, records and documents.
Protecting the facility – What can you do to protect your building?
• Clear procedures should be developed which outline how this phase of the plan should work.
• Designate employees in advance to perform these tasks to prevent confusion and damage.
• Review the need for systems which will prevent disasters by detecting abnormal situations and providing a warning e.g., fire detection systems, lightning protection, water level monitors, overflow detection, emergency power systems and shutoffs.
• Establish procedures which spell out when a facility should be shut down.
• Include in your plan a listing of all sections of the facility and grounds to be shut down and provide a list of things to be done. This may vary depending upon the type of emergency (flood vs. hurricane vs. freezing or bursting pipes). Examples: Floods - close and barricade doors and windows; Hurricanes - fasten down or store away all loose objects; Freezing or Bursting Pipes – seal all openings with caulking or insulation where cold air can get unprotected water pipes.
• Obtain items to carry out protection procedures (such as fire extinguishers) and include a listing and location of these items in your Plan. Make sure all employees are trained to use these items.
Disaster-resistant construction practices can help control your risk of serious damage for most sites.
Protecting Equipment – What equipment is essential?
In some situations, there may be enough time and opportunity to protect the equipment in your facility. Designating employees in advance to perform these tasks will prevent confusion and damage. Procedures should be developed that outline how this phase of the plan should work. Areas to consider, based upon the specific situation, include:
? shutting down equipment
? covering and securing equipment
? moving equipment to a safe location
? ensuring equipment is tagged by department and individual
? instructions on what to do if equipment cannot be moved
Protecting Records/Documents – What records do you need?
During an emergency, it is often necessary to secure an area which contains vital documents and records. As with equipment, designate employees who will be responsible for this action. Each specific emergency may require a separate set of procedures. Your plan should specify which documents are vital to your business (financial records, personnel files, employee databases, formulas, trade secrets, etc.). Each department should review its records to determine what would be needed to keep the business running, what would be needed to perform essential functions and what equipment would be needed to access this information.
A procedure must be identified in your plan for determining when records should be removed (in case of flood for example) or when the area must be secured (if there were chemical fumes for instance).
In this section of your plan, you should address:
• labeling of records
• computer system backups (maintain them off-site)
• storage of tapes and disks (insulated containers, off-site storage)
• location for storing records in the event they are removed during an evacuation
• backup systems and power
• hard copy of inventory lists
• hard copy of insurance policies and hardware and software licenses in a secure location off-site