Be prepared: reviewing your emergency procedures

Hand flicking through the pages of a document

As with most areas of life, it’s always best to take some time to prepare for the unexpected!

Emergency procedures should be an essential part of any workplace to ensure that your workers know what to do should the unexpected happen. The main objective is to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies to make sure that incidents are managed, and lives are saved.

The level of detail and cover necessary within your workplace should be covered within your Fire Risk Assessments and First Aid Needs Assessments.

Your emergency procedures should include:

Cover for foreseeable incidents

You need to consider what incidents may occur within your workplace and put in place contingency plans to help manage them.

What is foreseeable in each workplace will differ, however almost all workplaces will need to consider First Aid, fire procedures and Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) on a case-by-case basis, for those who require them.

You may also work with certain hazardous substances or complete processes requiring emergency procedures or contingency plans (such as working with ionising radiation). As with others, these procedures should be documented, and drills regularly held to ensure make sure your workers know what to do.

It’s a good idea to complete an overall risk assessment for emergencies within your workplace to help you to identify what may go wrong and how the risks may be controlled and use this to communicate your emergency response.

Assign clear responsibilities and training

Give some thought as to who within your organisation is required to respond to incidents – considering their level of attendance in the workplace, location and ability to respond. There may be limited value in training all your office workers as First Aiders when the majority of your injuries happen out in the field for example.

Assign individuals with responsibilities and document these arrangements, remembering to include arrangements for visitors to the premises too.

You’ll need to provide training for these responsible individuals to allow them to complete their duties with confidence. The levels of training that are required will depend on the complexities within your workplace however, this can include:

  • Basic CPR training for all employees
  • First Aid
  • Automated External Defibrillator (if you have one of these devices on site, or have arranged access to one)
  • Fire Warden and Fire Marshal training
  • Fire extinguisher use

You also need to train staff in your own internal emergency procedures. For example, if a member of staff is responsible for checking that everyone is accounted for at the fire assembly point then you need to verify that this has been explained and then check that it has been carried out.

Purchase and maintain equipment if required

Look at your arrangements and identify whether you have suitable and sufficient emergency equipment on site to respond effectively. Items to consider can include:

  • First Aid kits
  • Body-fluid spill kits
  • Automated External Defibrillators (these may be available within your local community, consider agreeing shared use with another business and identifying its location within your workplace)
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Evacuation chairs
  • Fire directional signage
  • High-visibility jackets
  • Other items, dependant on your risk assessment

Where equipment is purchased, it’s crucial that those who are required to use it are trained in its use and that it’s maintained and ready for use at all times. It’s a good idea to have a system in place to carry out, monitor and record planned preventative maintenance on emergency items.

Drill and review your arrangements

We recommend that you drill all your emergency procedures periodically, or more frequently should the risks and procedures change – particularly as a result of an incident. Regardless of this, you are legally required to complete at least one fire drill per year.

Ensure that you complete emergency drills and record any findings or elements to be improved upon. You need to look for key items such as:

  • Did all involved know what they were supposed to do?
  • Did all those with responsibilities carry them out? If not, why not?
  • Have sufficient equipment and resources been provided for the task?
  • Have equipment and resources been maintained (no empty First Aid kits etc)?

Make sure that you debrief the response team following each incident so that lessons can be learned and good practice shared.

Other things to consider

Using the example of cardiac arrest, would you know where your nearest AED is as they are now becoming more available in the general community?

Those responding to emergency situations may find the aftermath traumatic and may need support. We recommend that you consider an Employee Assistance Programme to provide counselling and support for those affected.

And remember, if you have any questions about how to manage any of the issues raised in this article, as a Citation client you can call our expert Health & Safety advice line on 0345 844 4848.

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