This week’s Safetip is about emergency response plans, and the roles and responsibilities of a company’s emergency response staff and employees. An article published in Occupational Health & Safety magazine provides practical tips and best practices to create and maintain an effective emergency response plan, including tips and best practices on assigning roles and responsibilities.
The Personality of the Employee Must Also Be Considered
The OH&S article makes a good point about qualifications. When choosing an employee for an emergency response role, it is not enough to take only into account the person’s position in the organization. The employee’s personality must also be taken into account, especially their tolerance to risk. If people are risk-averse, they may “freeze” when an emergency situation occurs and action is needed. “For ordinary people, watching someone collapse and become unconscious is the most daunting emotional moment of their lives, regardless of how many CPR cards they have”, Frank J. Poliafico, R.N., director of Training at Emergency University, explains in the OH&S magazine article. Ideally, people who are comfortable in leadership positions involving risk should be selected.
Common Roles and Responsibilities
Emergency response plans can vary by organization. In addition, there can be multiple emergency response plans for specific incidents (e.g. medical emergencies, non-medical emergencies, natural disasters, etc.). But most plans should have common roles and responsibilities. Here are the ones outlined in the OH&S magazine article:
Incident Commander/Team Leader: Leads the organizational response and serves as a liaison with outside emergency response agencies. Responsibilities include:
- Internal and external notifications
- Initial emergency procedures
- Manage ongoing internal and external communications
- Manage internal and external reporting
- Dispatch requests for assistance
- Direct ongoing emergency activities
Floor Wardens: Assist in the evacuation of the general workforce, and direct the general workforce from their work space through the designated evacuation route to the assembly area.
Security/Search and Rescue Team: Checks that the building is clear of personnel and assists in the evacuation of distressed employees. Responsibilities include:
- Search designated building areas to ensure workers has been evacuated
- Respond to distress calls and assist in evacuation
- Communicate and report to Incident Commander/Team Leader
General Workforce: Workers have one primary responsibility: safely evacuate the workplace by taking directions from the Floor Wardens, by following the evacuation plan to reach the pre-designated assembly area and by communicating their safe exit.
During an emergency, everybody has a role to play. In order to ensure that an emergency response plan is effective, clearly define the roles and responsibilities of everyone, and remind people of their obligations a few times a year.
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