As a company, are you able to respond quickly to any emergency? This is a question not to be taken lightly. The Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is an essential resource to ensure a coordinated and effective response to prevent loss of life, minimize injury and property damage within your organization.
Emergency preparedness can include fire and toxic leak evacuations, major weather events, utility disruptions, physical assaults, lockdowns, active shooters, suspicious packages, bomb threats, major traffic accidents (if you have a fleet of vehicles), repatriation of expatriate employees, etc. In this article, we will limit ourselves to the case of the evacuation of a work location and will briefly discuss a few aspects of a ERP, with the objective of making you aware of its importance.
What is an emergency measures plan?
As part of the crisis management plan, the ERP is a document that details the specific intervention procedures to be followed immediately in the event of an incident that may have security/safety implications. Good planning and a simplified approach will allow you to deal with several types of emergencies, depending on your context and your reality.
In addition, it is important to assign the role of emergency coordinator to a resource who has received training in this area and who is responsible for maintaining the ERP to facilitate the management of the incident when it occurs. It is also essential to always have access to the ERP, whether in paper or electronic format. However, in a telecommuting environment, it can be difficult to set up emergency squads at the work site since not all employees are in the office at the same time. This complicates the process as regulations must still be followed. An approach must therefore be developed that meets this constraint while considering the specific context of your organization in terms of presence at work.
In terms of coordination, all the resources needed to deal with an emergency are generally grouped together in the same place, either in a command center or in another location designated for this purpose. Both building owners and tenants must be properly trained on their roles and responsibilities in the ERP. It is also important to note that the tenant remains responsible for establishing an ERP for their own needs, even if the building owner provides one, as it covers only those incidents that are relevant to them as the building manager. It does not consider the various situations that may arise for each of its tenants. For example, a building owner’s ERP might cover evacuations, bomb threats and suspicious packages. However, transportation accidents involving employees, hazardous material spills on site, active shooters and medical emergencies might not be in said document.
Evacuation plan with an assigned assembly site
At a minimum, organizations shall have an evacuation procedure (e.g., in case of fire, gas leak, etc.). A specific assembly site, protected from the elements, must be established by the building owner or by the tenant if the building manager has not done so. Before making a choice, it is important to analyze the surroundings of the place of business to ensure that the location identified is adequate and meets the needs of the company. It is also possible to make agreements with neighbouring buildings to use their space in the event of an evacuation and to offer reciprocity. This is generally a win-win approach.
On the other hand, the primary responsibility of the tenant, in most cases the employer, is to take attendance once people have been evacuated to the assembly site. People with mobility impairments must also be accounted for and recorded on a list that must be kept up to date. Emergency coordinators are then responsible for establishing an evacuation protocol with the fire department.
Specific characteristics according to the type of company
Emergency procedures must be established for companies that are subject to leaks or releases of toxic substances. A list of these substances must be created and updated from time to time. If some of these substances are restricted, such as isotopes, they must be registered with the appropriate government authorities.
Unannounced tests and exercises
Unannounced tests and exercises are used to validate the effectiveness of the PMU. A good approach is to prepare messages in advance that are ready to be broadcast and/or activated, both internally and externally. Think of voice messages, audio and visual cues, automated telephone messages for customer service, call forwarding, automated e-mail responses, etc.
Do not hesitate to contact us so that we can assist you in the development or revision of your Emergency Response Plan. Benoit Racette Consulting Services Inc. can help you be better prepared and accompany you in this process. Contact us now: [email protected].