In recent weeks, the COVID-19 global pandemic forced many business owners and their teams to navigate an impromptu – yet very real – workplace emergency situation.

OSHA describes a workplace emergency as “an unforeseen situation that threatens your employees, customers, or the public; disrupts or shuts down your operations; or causes physical or environmental damage.”

Natural or manmade, workplace emergencies include natural disasters such as floods and tornados; toxic environments caused by gas, chemical, or radiological accidents; explosions; civil disturbances; violence… and viral outbreaks.

In the event of a crisis, time is of the essence. Your company’s emergency response policies and procedures provide the essential pre-meditated decision-making necessary to reduce confusion and hesitation and mitigate loss.

These protocols require proper training and practice, but through exercise and integration they can absolutely save property, assets, and, most importantly, lives.

While many businesses in the U.S. have temporarily shut their doors, many other offices and workplaces remain operational across the country.

If your workplace has not yet created an emergency response plan, do not delay any further.

Emergency response plans designate the actions both employers and employees must carry out to ensure the safety of all team members and patrons. They should be devised with all previous workplace emergencies in mind and customized to your company and its specific needs and limitations.

For companies with multiple properties, each site should carry its own emergency response plan which covers the following (at minimum):

  • Specific evacuation policies and procedures, including routes and exits, posted where they are easily accessible to all employees.
  • Preferred methods for reporting emergencies.
  • Protocols for assisting individuals with disabilities and those who do not speak English.
  • A list of designated employees who will handle critical operations – including shutdown – in the event of an evacuation. (It is critical these team members are able to understand when to cease operation and evacuate themselves.)
  • A method of accounting for personnel following an evacuation/emergency. (Employees’ transportation needs should be considered for mass evacuations.)

When implementing emergency response policies and procedures, it is paramount to keep the following in mind:

  1. All policies and procedures enacted under your Emergency Response Plan should be clearly communicated to all participants via multiple methods and mediums.
  2. All participants should be made aware of how to stay abreast of any notices and updates in real time.
  3. All expectations and responsibilities as they relate to employment or involvement in your organization must be clearly communicated to all

At Secom, our Security & Emergency Preparedness Division assists commercial, institutional, and government organizations to develop emergency policies and procedures in the event of a workplace emergency. We regularly install state-of-the-art security systems that work in tandem with these emergency protocols, such as access control, video surveillance, and intrusion detection, as well as cybersecurity and structural security services.

Download our emergency preparedness checklist today, and contact Secom to learn how we can help you keep your business, and your employees, secure.