As stated by OSHA, if a company has over 10 employees, they are required to have a plan of action in case of an emergency. This plan should include steps for the management down to every employee and what they're to do in an emergency. These plans should be reviewed with all those working at the company and regularly. Not only does the employment of a company grow and change over time, but the responsibilities of certain people also may in time as well; staying up to date and prepared is essential because you never know when an emergency may happen.
There must be drawn evacuation plans placed, as well as steps and guidelines for people who are responsible for shutting down plant operations before leaving. There should also be a system developed to account for all employees on the site at the time that way search and rescue won't have to waste time looking for someone who didn't show to work that day. Every person should know their various medical and rescue responsibilities, and there should be a system that allows for reporting emergencies in case the normal lines of communication are cut off.
Understanding the Chain of Command in an Emergency
While it is natural to think that a CEO or manager is responsible for everything, in an emergency there needs to be multiple hands on deck ready to perform important duties. Having this chain of command sorted out is essential. Having an emergency coordinator is important so that they know the essential people to contact during the emergency. They must be trained in toxic hazards, fire emergency response, and when to call for an outside response, etc. These teams also need training and certification in first aid, CPR, how to use a fire extinguisher, shutdown protocols, chemical spills, emergency response, hazardous materials response protocols, and the like. Though this list is extensive, it is important!
- Responsible for assessing the severity of the emergency
- Responsible for creating specific procedures to address each situation
- Responsible for emergency evacuation, and any other emergency activities
- Responsible for notifying outside assistance and emergency response teams
- In charge of the plant shut down operations and the delegation of other responsibilities
Employee training is an absolute must in any workplace, especially on industrial plants. Just as it is essential that all employees be properly equipped to handle their jobs and any equipment while working, it is also important that they are properly trained in emergency response—others' lives may depend on it. All employees (no matter what level the job title is) must be knowledgeable and prepared for an emergency. This includes being aware of evacuation, alarm systems, shutdown protocol, possible hazards with chemicals, equipment, and flammable materials, etc. Annual training is required by OSHA for all workplaces so that there is no excuse for being under-prepared in the wake of a disaster.
Medical response is another crucial aspect of industrial plants preparation. OSHA claims that first aid much is reachable on site in no more than four minutes (whether this is a hospital or a clinic); if not, a certified first-aid responder must be on site when workers are there. First aid kits must always be on site, as well as the phone numbers to any relevant response teams including EMS, hospital emergency rooms, HAZMAT, etc.
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