The importance of emergency action plans in the workplace

Online training systems help ensure that employees know where emergency exits are and other procedures to follow in the event of a workplace incident.

Last month, news broke of a shooting outside the Empire State Building in New York City. The incident happened in broad daylight with crowds of tourists and local workers in the area. Initial reports raised the question of this being a possible terrorist attack, until it turned out to be a disgruntled individual targeting co-workers at his former place of employment.

Tragedies like these can lead to interruptions in business operations, injuries to employees and, in the worst scenarios, loss of life. That is why it is imperative for companies to have emergency action plans in place.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released a comprehensive guide to building effective emergency action plans. As the document explains, there are multiple types of incidents which these plans must cover in order to help protect the employees of any business. Protocols should be in place to deal with workplace violence as well as natural disasters such as fires, hurricanes and earthquakes.

Paramount among the priorities of any company should be training its workforce how to respond during these incidents. Everything from the location of safety equipment and exits to emergency phone numbers and evacuation routes should be clearly explained.

"As with most issues in the workplace, the proverbial ounce of prevention really matters," writes John Hyman for The Practical Employer blog. "While there exists no foolproof way to protect your workplace against the kinds of tragedies that we've seen lately, these few steps can go a long way to putting you in the best place to deter and respond."

Companies should require regular training for their employees on emergency action plans, should the need ever arise for them to be put into use. Online training systems can be customized to a business' specific plans so that current and future hires are adequately prepared.


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