Office and Workplace Safety Planning: Is your office ready for a potential threat?
"Failing to plan is planning to fail," Benjamin Franklin.
No truer words have been spoken. Preparing your office to be safe and secure is a key practice that businesses should incorporate in their day-to-day workings. From small corner stores to large-scale corporations, it is imperative to integrate a strategic plan for emergency situations.
Disaster planning is vital because it is important to feel safe and secure in an area where you spend a bulk of your time – the workplace. Think about your place of employment as your home. Do you know where the first aid kit is? Do you know how to evacuate? Do your neighbors or office mates also know the plan?
As we embark on a new year, here are a few disaster planning questions to consider as you work to establish or update your disaster preparedness plans.
- Do you know if your building has an existing safety plan? Check with your building’s operations or facilities teams and ask what the plans are for shelter in place, evacuation, and active threat situations. These plans will all look different, therefore it is crucial to know the distinction between them.
- Does your company have an internal point person? Who on your team will lead the charge if a situation arises? Having a predetermined leader can make emergency situations run smoother. This person should review the office safety plans regularly and be able to quickly spring into action if needed.
- Is your plan easily accessible? If your company already has a plan in place, can your employees access it without difficulty if they need to, or do they even know where to look at all? Ensure the plan is posted in various locations such as your internal company site and the employee handbook. Don’t forget to include emergency phone numbers in this plan as well.
- Have you spoken to professionals? Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Seeking advice from local emergency management professionals is encouraged as they can share up-to-date best practices and help you devise a custom plan that is both efficient and effective.
- When is the last time you practiced? Running regular drills will help you identify problems and keep employees familiar with the routine. Practice makes perfect! Develop a schedule and mark your calendar for practice drills throughout the year.
Of course, everyone hopes there is never a need for disaster planning, but in South Louisiana we know that Mother Nature has a mind of her own. Disaster planning for weather related events like flooding, tornados and hurricanes is crucial, as well as planning for other potential threats including fire, active shooters or threatening interactions with customers. Being prepared can help keep your company and your employees be safe.
Also consider adding additional layers of disaster planning to your toolkit. Having Automatic External Difibulators (AEDs) and bleeding control kits easily accessible increases your office’s ability to handle a wider range of emergencies. Employees will need training in these skills, but it is usually cost effective and trainings are easily scheduled.
Nina Cleveland is the associate director, professor of practice, emergency and security studies at Tulane University School of Professional Advancement.