If you held your last fire or emergency evacuation drill more than six months ago, it’s time to think about staging another. Careful planning and evaluation can help you get the most out of these exercises, enhancing your employee’s chances of a safe evacuation.
Bear in mind that unannounced drills give you an idea of how workers might actually react in an emergency situation. On the other hand, announcing drills offer them the opportunity to prepare for and practice specific skill sets they would need.
Before a fire emergency arises, workers need to know:
- How to activate the appropriate alarm system(s).
- How and when to contact the fire department.
- What to do before they evacuate—such as shutting down equipment.
- Their role in the evacuation. For example, they might need to assist disabled co-workers, help contractors or visitors on the premises, bring essential items such as visitor logs that can be used to verify that everyone is out of the building, provide first aid for injured co-workers, or act to prevent or minimize hazardous chemical releases.
- How to evacuate their work area by at least two routes.
- The locations of stairwells (workers should not use elevators to evacuate).
- Places to avoid – such as hazardous materials storage areas.
- Assembly points outside the building.
After the drill, evaluate the exercise to determine which problems need addressing.
A study commissioned by the British government found that for every lost-time injury of more than three days, there were 189 non-injury cases. No business can afford to ignore these near misses, which provide invaluable opportunities to identify and correct safety hazards on the job before they lead to accidents or injuries.
However, according to an article in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) journal, employees often resist reporting these close calls for such reasons as fear of management retaliation, peer pressure, concern about a safety record, complicated reporting forms and lack of feedback.
To encourage employee reporting of near misses in the workplace, experts recommend these guidelines:
- Provide your employees with safety training.
- Develop strategies to measure how reporting near misses improves safety performance.
- Recognize and reward employees for proactive safety engagement.
- Have your safety committee oversee the reporting process.
- Provide incident investigations training for all managers that includes mentoring help for new staff members.
- Investigate everything! The time you spend investigating near misses will yield long-term rewards by eliminating the time, expense, and hassle of dealing with major (possibly fatal) injuries or property loss – not to mention the impact on productivity and workplace morale.
- Conduct comprehensive follow-up on corrective action plans. Ask who, what, and by when – and make sure that these changes are made.
- Report on all investigations. Making sure that every employee hears about every near miss will encourage reporting of future incidents, as workers realize that speaking out will help them do their work more safely.
Our agency’s specialists would be happy to provide their advice on encouraging your employees to help keep their workplace safe. Just give us a call.
Employment-related accidents behind the wheel are the leading cause of death from traumatic injuries in the workplace, killing some 2,200 people a year and accounting for 22% of job-related fatalities. Deaths and injuries from these accidents increase costs and reduce productivity for employers – while bringing pain and suffering to family, friends, and coworkers.
Preventing work-related roadway crashes poses a significant risk management challenge. The roadway is a unique work environment. Compared with other work settings, employers have little ability to control conditions and exert direct supervision over their drivers. The volume of traffic and road construction continue to increase, while workers feel pressured to drive faster for longer periods, and often use mobile electronic devices that distract them behind the wheel.
To help reduce this risk, for both long-distance truck drivers and employees who occasionally use personal vehicles for company business, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that employers follow these precautions:
- Require drivers and passengers to use seat belts.
- Ensure that employees who drive on the job have valid licenses.
- Incorporate road fatigue management in safety programs.
- Provide fleet vehicles with top quality crash protection.
- Make sure employees receive training to operate specialized vehicles.
- Offer periodic vision screening and physicals for employees whose primary job is driving.
- Avoid requiring workers to drive irregular or extended hours.
- Prohibit cell phone use and other distracting activities such as eating, drinking, or adjusting non-critical vehicle controls while driving.
- Set schedules that allow drivers to obey speed limits.
- Follow state laws on graduated driver’s licensing and child labor.
For more information about how to prevent work-related driving deaths and injuries, just give one of our Risk Management experts a call at any time.