Does your company have an emergency action plan—and, if so, are your employees familiar with it? According to a recent survey, while 70% of managers claim their company has an emergency action plan, only 50% of employees say they’re aware of one. That’s alarming. Not knowing what to do in a workplace emergency can lead to more severe injuries, as well as greater damage to the business.
Besides, according to OSHA regulations, most businesses are required to have a written emergency action plan. A sound emergency action plan will outline the company’s procedures for reporting emergencies, handling (and practicing) site evacuations and communicating with employees during and after the crisis.
While business disaster planning extends beyond the scope of human resources, HR plays a leading role, especially when it comes to educating and training employees. If your company’s emergency action plan needs work, HR can be instrumental in getting it back on track.
Not sure where your company stands? Take our quick emergency preparedness quiz. See at-a-glance if your workforce is disaster-ready—and if not, where to focus your efforts.
Workforce Emergency Preparedness Quiz
Does your company have a written emergency action plan? Does it describe what employees should do in various workplace disasters?
Ideally, companies should have a written emergency action plan, created by an internal
emergency preparedness team in consultation with risk management experts. Ideally, the team—composed of both managers and employees—will meet periodically to review the plan and update it as needed.
Do your employees know what to do first should they spot an unfolding emergency?
Say one of your employees is the first to confront a small warehouse fire. Are you confident all your employees would know how to respond—i.e., grab a fire extinguisher, call their manager, or call 911—based on your emergency action plan?
Do all employees know which exit routes to take in an evacuation?
You undoubtedly have maps posted throughout your worksite(s), but don’t assume your employees actually look at them. Periodic reminders and training drills help ensure employees are up to speed.
Do your employees know where to assemble after an evacuation?
It’s not enough to know how to evacuate safely—employees need to know where to go to be checked out and so a headcount can be conducted.
Is your employee action plan included in your employee handbook? Covered during the onboarding process?
According to safety experts, a company’s business disaster plan should be included in the employee handbook (and/or a separate document distributed to employees). It should be specifically covered during onboarding/orientation. And because reinforcement is key, it should be addressed in internal newsletters/emails and on the company intranet on a regular basis.
Do you hold evacuation drills? When was the last time you practiced?
During a real emergency, it’s hard to think clearly. Physical practice will help workers remember what to do.
Do you have an established “hub” where employees can go for post-disaster updates?
Whether it’s an informational phone line or a URL, employees need to know where to call or login for updates about the company’s status/returning to work. This will help you restore normal operations more quickly.
When was the last time your emergency action plan was reviewed and updated? The last time you addressed it in an employee communication?
Your emergency action plan is a living document. It’s important to keep it current and also to schedule employee reminders and drills at regular intervals to keep it real.
Business Disaster Planning Is More Important Than Ever
One reason that companies are lax in developing emergency action plans is something called “optimism bias”—the very human tendency to believe in favorable outcomes. (“Bad things happen, but not to us.”) However, statistics indicate that workplace disasters are on the rise.
Take catastrophic natural disasters like hurricanes and floods. According to an analysis of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAH), in the 1980s, the U.S. experienced an average of 2.7 billion-dollar disasters per year. Decade by decade, that frequency has increased. Now, we’re experiencing an average of 10.5 such disasters per year.
Then there are issues like workplace violence, which impacts two million American workers annually. While there are no specific OSHA regulations governing workplace violence, OSHA encourages employers to develop prevention programs.
Having the right HR software will make it easier to keep your employees educated on how to stay safe during an emergency. For example, EPAY’s integrated HCM software allows you to post an electronic version of your employee handbook—and/or an emergency action plan document—online, where employees can access it anytime. You can make reading it part of your online onboarding process, too.
And because EPAY HCM simplifies so many time-consuming HR tasks, it frees your HR team to stay on top of long-term initiatives like emergency preparedness. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Learn more—take our two-minute tour.