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Being ill-prepared for emergencies can lead to serious injury, loss of profits, and even death. To keep mishaps to a minimum, it is imperative for companies to have emergency plans and be prepared for a variety of scenarios. This guide will take you through the issues associated with maintaining readiness for foreseeable emergencies. We will look at its corresponding responses and in addition, we will address the preparation, issue, control and updating of your emergency response plan for the most effective ways of dealing with emergencies.

1. Assess what could go wrong

All foreseeable emergencies should be identified and the specific response to each one defined, so that these responses can be included in the plan. Potential emergencies may include:

  • Fires (excluding bush fires)
  • Explosions
  • Major spills (to land, water, etc.)
  • Major gas leaks (explosives, flammable, toxic)
  • Road accidents (including major spills)
  • Civil disturbances (e.g. riots)
  • Acts of terrorism (e.g. bomb threats, and chemical, biological and radiological emergencies)
  • Natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, cyclones, bush fires, floods, mud slides, tidal waves, etc.)

Not only are these important to note, it is also vital to consider your facility’s geographic location (e.g. proximity to other sites where large quantities of hazardous materials are stored) and potential technological failures that could occur when responding to emergencies. This can mean computer system failure, communications failure, power failure and etc. that could impact on the process of responding to emergencies.

2. Develop the emergency response plan

The next step is to prepare a controlled Emergency Response Plan. This plan should be reviewed, authorised and distributed to all members of staff and workers at your facility. It should also be reviewed annually and, if necessary, revised and re-issued.

Keep in mind these essential issues:

  • Up-to-date site location and layout
  • Emergency phone numbers (internal and external)
  • Hazardous materials on site (location, quantity, types, method of storage, handling, fire-fighting methods to be used, etc.)
  • Specific arrangements for the appropriate response to any of the emergencies above, which are considered foreseeable or likely
  • The arrangements for alert or alarm situation (who should be notified and how)

The response to each emergency should include these functions:

  • Damage containment
  • Control and minimisation
  • Rescue and first aid of personnel
  • Internal and external communication
  • Evacuation of personnel
  • Coordination and cooperation with the relevant emergency services (the police, fire brigade, ambulance services, etc.)

Once completed, consult with your local emergency services to determine its scope and adequacy and be sure to make the plan accessible for them as a precautionary measure.

A person should be formally appointed to assume responsibility for activating the plan in the event of an emergency.

In addition to the plan, detailed work instruction(s) should be in place to instruct personnel how to deal with bomb threats and other threats made against the organisation. This should particularly apply to personnel more likely to receive threatening phone calls (e.g. receptionists).

Furthermore, include specific responses to emergencies involving individual hazardous materials used by the organisation in the emergency plan. This is in accordance with Australian Standard AS 1678.

3. Ensure appropriate measures for emergency notification

In the event of an emergency, notify the relevant emergency services such as fire brigade, police and ambulance straightaway. Your neighbours and the public in the vicinity should also be informed immediately as well.

4. Consider the media

A nominated senior manager (with assistance from the WHS manager) should deal with any media inquiries and public statements following the event of a disaster.

5. Test the system

To ensure all precautionary measures will serve to minimise losses during an emergency, it is essential to conduct proper training for persons who have responsibilities in an emergency situation (e.g. fire fighters, evacuation wardens, etc.).

Evacuation drills should also be conducted for all personnel, at least once a year.

6. Follow up after an emergency

Be sure to conduct a full investigation following an emergency. This not only determines the causes of the emergency, but it will also indicate whether the Emergency Response Plan requires any revisions.

Depending on the nature of the emergency, counselling should be provided to persons affected by the trauma.

General advice warning

The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own situation and requirements before making any decisions.

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