The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires each employer to have a site specific employee emergency response plan. To ensure workplace safety a clear evacuation plan along with the relevant procedures and training will ensure workplace safety and adequate emergency response.
The baseline risk assessment is an integral part of the emergency response plan, since this will identify all the potential emergency situations as well as control measure that need to be included in the emergency plan. First responder training is required for any workers who is tasked with controlling an emergency situation. Incident emergency response planning includes development, training and implementation of an incident command structure to ensure a safe and coordinated response to any emergency situation.
Management must review plans with employees initially and whenever the plan itself, or employees responsibilities under it, change. Plans should be re-evaluated and updated periodically. Emergency procedures, including the handling of any toxic chemicals, dealing with strikes , fires and violent crimes:
Escape procedures and escape route assignments.
Special procedures for employees who perform or shut down critical plant operations.
A system to account for all employees after evacuation.
Rescue and medical duties for employees who perform them.
Means for reporting strikes, fires and violent crimes to authorities.
Contacts for information about the plan.
An emergency response coordinator and a back-up coordinator must be designated. The coordinator may be responsible for plant-wide operations, public information and ensuring that outside aid is called in. A back-up coordinator ensures that a trained person is always available and alert.
Members of emergency response teams should be thoroughly trained for potential emergencies and physically capable of carrying out their duties; have knowledge about all potential hazards in the workplace and be able to judge when to evacuate personnel or depend on outside help.
Effective emergency response communication is vital and a dedicated communication centre other than management offices could be established in the plans and the emergency response coordinator can operate from this centre. Management should provide emergency alarms and ensure that employees know how to report emergencies. An updated list of key personnel and off-duty telephone numbers should be maintained.
A system should be established for accounting for personnel once workers have been evacuated with a person in the control centre responsible for notifying police or emergency response team members of persons believed missing.
Effective security procedures, such as cordoned off areas, can prevent unauthorized access and protect vital records and equipment.
Duplicate records can be kept in off-site locations for essential accounting files, legal documents and lists of employees relatives to be notified in case of emergency.
Every employee needs to know details of the emergency action plan, including evacuation plans, alarm systems, reporting procedures for personnel, shutdown procedures, and types of potential emergencies. Drills should be held at random intervals, at least quarterly, and include, if possible, outside police and fire authorities especially for larger organisation with large workforce.
Training must be conducted initially, when new employees are hired, and at least annually. Additional training is needed when new equipment, materials, or processes are introduced, when procedures have been updated or revised, or when exercises show that employee performance is inadequate.
In summary the main points of Emergency Control and Response are:
Employers need to know any failure of the links in this chain can result in serious or catastrophic consequences. It is very important for employers to know the risks and control measures and to develop procedures to ensure their employees know how to respond in an emergency situation.
For more information about how to develop a comprehensive emergency response plan, please contact the LabourNet Helpdesk at
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