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Does your company have a plan for a catastrophic accident?

Remember fire drills in school? They were exciting at first. When the alarm sounded, everyone hustled from the building with stern-faced teachers warning of the importance of single-file lines and closed lips. By the time you got to high school, however, it was hard to take such drills seriously. You and your friends may have strolled down the evacuation route, chatting about your plans for the weekend and happy to be missing chemistry.

As an adult, hearing stories of emergencies at schools or other California institutions may have reminded you of the careful planning your school administrators did to minimize the chances that someone would be hurt or worse. Preparing for such incidents in the workplace is just as important.

Preparation is part of prevention

No one wants to think about a catastrophic accident at work. However, preparation for the worst-case scenario is one way to potentially reduce casualties and minimize chaos and confusion. If your workplace does not have a plan for a catastrophic accident, you may wish to suggest such a plan to your supervisor. Some of the elements of an emergency plan include:

  • An evacuation procedure
  • Easily accessible lists of important contacts
  • A method for contacting emergency responders
  • A designated area for meeting after evacuation
  • A system for accounting for employees

During your school fire drills, you may not have realized it, but the administration probably designated certain faculty members to make sure the building was empty. While you and your classmates stood outside waiting for the all-clear, your teacher may have been inside checking bathrooms for stragglers and closing doors. Your workplace would benefit from having similar assignments.

Designating important duties during an emergency

In your company's emergency plan, your supervisor may assign certain employees to handle medical needs. Someone else may take the responsibility of calling for emergency help. Your supervisor may also designate someone to shut down any critical operations. There may be other details to consider, and having those plans made in advance will provide time for training and drills.

If you feel inadequately prepared for the potential that a catastrophic accident will occur at your worksite, you may want to bring it up to your supervisor or safety coordinator. Having a plan in place could reduce the number of injuries and fatalities, and certainly provide you and your co-workers with the assurance that you are doing everything possible to create a safe work environment.

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