September marks the midpoint of hurricane season, and though this year has been less active than seasons past, it’s still wise to prepare for the worst. Natural disasters can strike at any time, putting workers in danger of injury, illness, or death. Implementing a safety plan before the devastation can help keep workers – and their families – out of harm’s way.
Your company may be required to have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), which identifies correct response actions for each natural disaster. These plans must be in writing in the workplace and available for review.
EAPs should consider how an emergency will impact the worksite. For instance, could workers evacuate immediately if necessary, or does the site require personnel at all times? Are there any chemical or physical hazards that would be worsened in the case of a disaster?
EAP’s also should include:
- A list of key personnel with contact information
- A list of local emergency agencies and hospitals, with contact information
- An explanation of how emergency rescue operations will be performed
- An explanation of how medical assistance will be provided
- Where personal employee information can be found in an emergency
Regardless of whether or not your company has an EAP, having an evacuation plan in place can help prevent injury and avoid confusion in the midst of a disaster. The plan should identify when an evacuation is necessary, as well as spell out a clear chain of command.
Evacuation plans also should include:
- An explanation of what is expected from different employees during an emergency
- Specific evacuation procedures, including routes and emergency exits
- Procedures for accounting for personnel and visitors
- Procedures for assisting people during evacuations, especially those with disabilities or those who do not speak the same language
No matter the type of disaster, you should assemble a disaster supplies kit with everything you need to survive for at least three days. Those kits should include:
- Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days
- Food – at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food
- A battery-powered radio
- A flashlight
- Extra batteries
- A First-Aid kit
- Any necessary documents or contact information
Preparing for natural disasters before they occur helps you keep your workers safe when things turn deadly. Check out OSHA’s website for a full Emergency Action Plan checklist, and visit the Red Cross to find everything you need for a full disaster supplies kit.