Prepare For All Types Of Emergencies In The Workplace

 In Workplace Safety

Construction sites, warehouses, and production facilities are whirlwinds of activity and motion. It’s really quite amazing. Consider the technological and mechanical complexity of the machines. Marvel at the coordinated movements of highly skilled workers — both individually and as members of a team. And then consider the dangers that are present in the midst of all that hubbub and activity. There are many types of emergencies in the workplace. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that there are many potential emergencies in the workplace.

But with practiced emergency responses, any workplace emergency can be handled quickly and effectively. This will help ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved.

Forming An Appropriate Response Plan

Naturally, a proper emergency response depends on the type of emergency. In worst-case scenarios — workplace violence, natural disasters — everyone along the chain of command must be prepared to act. This will protect the people and the property until emergency services can arrive to assist the team. This usually involves moving quickly to one or more assembly areas to await instruction.

Other workplace emergencies — injuries, electrical fires — are far more common. In such cases, the team should still be prepared in advance.

Each team member needs to know the basics — Where are the fire extinguishers? Is the first aid kit easily accessible? — and understand their role in any workplace emergency.

We thought it would be wise to include information on both types of emergencies. In other words, the more serious and the more common.

Storee wants everyone to feel safe at work. We also want workers to feel secure. It helps to know that workplace health and safety is prioritized.

Thus, plans and procedures should be set in place. This protects everybody should an emergency arise while they’re on the clock.

With that in mind, here are some types of emergencies in the workplace. Each of us should be prepared to encounter at least some of these from time to time. We’ve also included information on some emergencies that are less likely to occur. However, they remain distinct possibilities over the course of the average worker’s professional life.

This information was compiled from multiple sources, including our own experiences since 1966. However, we relied heavily on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for much of what follows. Where and when appropriate, we’ll include links to the source materials.

Emergencies in the Workplace

OSHA asks and then answers the question, “What is a workplace emergency?”

“A workplace emergency,” they write, “is an unforeseen situation.” It “threatens your employees, customers, or the public.” It can also disrupt your operations or cause “physical or environmental damage.”

“Emergencies may be natural or manmade,” OSHA continues. Emergencies can include floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, chemical spills, explosions, civil disturbances, workplace violence, and more.

OSHA also suggests training employees who will then be able to address emergencies. Emergency training should include knowing individual roles and responsibilities, emergency response procedures, location of emergency equipment, and emergency shutdown procedures.

Emergency Action Plan

Managers should prepare an emergency action plan (EAP). The EAP should take into account the likelihood of a particular emergency occurring at a specific location.

It’s not possible to predict every emergency. It is possible, however, to prep and plan for those that are most likely to arise.

For instance, a manufacturing facility may prepare an EAP for fires, floods, or the release of toxic gases. A comprehensive EAP is created via thorough risk assessments and should, therefore, include all types of possible emergencies.

The emphasis should be on those emergencies most likely to occur. This can be because of a natural or local emergency outside the walls of the facility. It can also be because of human error within them.

Other Types of Emergencies

We’d be remiss not to mention a few other types of emergencies, although it’s up to plant and office management to decide the likelihood of each. Still, it’s helpful to have an EAP in place for:

  • Bomb threats
  • Threats of violence (in person, over the phone, via email, anonymous etc.)
  • Terrorism
  • Tsunami

In a piece titled “Expect the Unexpected,” OSHA defines “the standard definition of an emergency (as a) sudden, unforeseen crisis, usually involving danger, which requires immediate action.”

And while OSHA acknowledges that “most workplace emergencies fit this definition,” not all of them do.

“For example,” they write, “a health-related crisis — such as a flu pandemic — may not happen suddenly or require immediate action but could become an emergency over a matter of days or weeks.”

In the age of COVID-19, this is an especially relevant passage. We can’t foresee every type of workplace emergency, but we can be prepared for them.

Stay calm. Follow instructions. Trust your training. Adhere to your EAP.

Contact Storee with any questions.