The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and National Safety Council all provide valuable resources for safety professionals who are seeking to create effective and comprehensive emergency plans for their municipalities.
Emergency situations include natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, wildfires, and earthquakes, as well as man-made crises like toxic gas releases, chemical spills, bomb threats, and workplace violence situations. Plans to address these scenarios should include provisions for:
- Determine a secure offsite location for data storage and backup so your digital assets remain safe and accessible. This will make it easier to get back to business once the emergency is over.
- Keep an inventory of all equipment and physical assets owned by the municipality and ensure you have proper insurance coverage for all essential items that may potentially need to be replaced.
- Shore up your infrastructure if you are located in an area prone to extreme weather, tornadoes, or earthquakes.
- Identify an alternative location where you could relocate business operations if the need should arise.
- Deploy an alarm or public-address system to warn employees of an emergency situation and the need to leave the premises or shelter in place.
- Establish escape routes from all facility locations to the nearest exit or alternate exits if one or more should be blocked.
- Devise procedures for safety team employees who are responsible for shutting down machinery and operations in case of an emergency.
- Know who is scheduled to work on any given day and have a designated meeting spot for employees to gather at, so a roll call can be taken to account for employees.
- Alert the authorities immediately upon determining a need for medical, fire, rescue and recovery, or law enforcement personnel.
- Identify a nearby location where you can set up an emergency communications and command center. This might be a school, police station, fire department or other public site.
- Know who is responsible for talking to the media, alerting the public to any lingering danger and providing situational updates.
- Ensure that you have a complete contact list for onsite and offsite municipal administrators as well as employees.
- Have access to a list of approved vendors who have been previously vetted and are qualified to begin repairs and cleanup work at your location.
- Provide all employees with the fundamental training to understand escape routes and shelter-in-place procedures.
- Identify, establish, and train safety team personnel to serve on fire brigade, HAZMAT team, or emergency response teams. Make sure they are trained in basic First-aid and CPR procedures.
- Conduct worst-case-scenario exercises with your emergency management and safety teams.
- Schedule various levels of drills to walk evacuation routes, practice functional responses (fire, tornado, active shooter, etc.) and full-scale exercises with emergency responders.
In this day and age, we never know what catastrophic event will occur. We must be prepared with planning, procedures, and practice. For more information on emergency planning go to www.ready.gov.