Risk ControlEmergency Planning: Do Your Employees Know What To Do?The real test of an emergency plan is not what is written down on paper but rather how well it plays out in a realemergency. How well it plays out will be dependent on what your employees know and what they do. What if youremployees smell smoke? Would they ignore it? Dial 911 and leave the building? Report it to a supervisor tohandle? What would the supervisor do once the fire alarm sounds? Dial into the PA system and announce the fire?Grab a fire extinguisher and look for the fire? Leave the building and locate employees? What would a productionemployee do? Wonder what the noise means? Run to the emergency exit diagram to find out which exit to use?Leave his machine running as he exits? What would the maintenance lead do? Meet the fire engine? Turn off thevalves to the process ovens? How about the office manager, after sending employees out the front door? Followthem to their predetermined assembly area to take roll? Search the rest rooms to make sure everyone got out?Grab today’s Accounts Receivable and Inventory back-up disks before she leaves?Do you know what your employees would do?To Plan to Fail…. To Fail to PlanIf you’re not sure how your employees would act in these situations, its time to take another look at yourEmergency Action Plans. “To Plan to Fail” may not be your intent, but if you “Fail to Plan” or your plans areoutdated, incomplete or a mystery to your employees, mistakes and chaos could lead to severe losses, includingpotentially multiple casualties and financial collapse.Some Key Planning ConsiderationsEmergency Action Plans contain common elements: detection, action, resources, responsibilities and recovery.Good pre-planning generally begins with a vulnerability or “Threat Assessment.” This assessment should giveconsideration to hazards such as fires, explosions, release of flammable liquids or toxic substances, as well asnatural disasters, such as floods, blizzards, earthquakes, tornadoes or hurricanes. The assessment also shouldconsider loss of electrical power and communications during any threat.• Detection Events. Cues such as smelling smoke, seeing a fire or hearing an automatic alarm usually set a fire evacuation plan into action. But do your employees know when and how they should report the fire? What is the detection or “trigger” event in your severe weather plan – a countywide warning, local sirens, sighting by your security guard? Clearly define detection events to reinforce the response of employees who may otherwise not know what to do or when.• Employee Action. The “Action” element of your plan describes what each of your employees should do once the plan has been initiated. Fire- Evacuation Plans should identify multiple escape routes as well as designate a sufficient number of persons to assist in an orderly evacuation. Should some employees attempt to find and fight a fire in the “incipient” stages? Anticipate problems in your plans: what about visitors, persons with physical impairments, blocked exits? Identify processes, equipment and utilities that may need to be shut down to reduce ignition or fuel sources and limit potential damage.
Page 2Risk Control• Resources. Resources include the internal and external personnel, equipment and materials that you use to deal with the emergencies in your plans. Local fire and EMS departments are important external resources – but how are they summoned in your plan? Does your plan identify your internal resources – employees trained in the use of your fire extinguishers or first aid? Floor wardens to aid in the evacuation process? Buddies to help co-workers with disabilities? Do your employees know the locations of water and utility shut-off valves? Are your emergency EXIT signs and floodlights properly located and in good condition? Have you gathered the names and numbers of employee emergency contacts, utilities, hazardous waste removal and cleanup contractors? Do you have off-site data backup, in the event you loose your computers?• Responsibilities. Without well-defined responsibilities, your Emergency Action Plans could fail. How much authority does a production employee have when it comes to sounding an internal alarm, shutting down the manufacturing process or calling the fire department? What are the responsibilities of your “fire wardens”? Who has the responsibility and authority to talk to the press? Your plan should be clear on these points.• Recovery. The Recovery or restoration stage depends on the nature and extent of the emergency. “Rescuing” important data or information such as computer business records or incorporation papers may be sufficient in the case of a small fire. But, restoring your business after a major incident may require pre-planning in some broad categories such as business contingency planning (succession planning, alternative facility locations, off site data backup), post emergency services, including employee support services, communications management, both with the media and employees, and all activities around damage assessment, salvage and clean-up, and resumption of operations.Communicating the PlansWithout employee training, an Emergency Action Plan is just a piece of paper. If employees do not recognize thealarm, they may not evacuate. If a supervisor doesn’t know the protocol for reporting the emergency, the firedepartment may not arrive. If employees do not know what to do after an evacuation, they may go home or backinto a dangerous building. Life safety experts agree that evacuation training for all employees, including newemployees, is key to life safety in real emergencies. Local and national fire codes require employee instructions andperiodic drills. OSHA requires that employers review Emergency Action Plans with all employees when a plan isinitially developed, whenever there is a change in the employee’s responsibilities and/or when the plan itself ischanged. All training must be documented.Closing CommentsCompanies should begin the planning process with a vulnerability threat assessment, since these can vary based onlocation and operation. Employee training in emergency response, including evacuation, can not be overstated.NFPA is clear that drills and training must be sufficient enough for employees to know expectations in anemergency. Experts agree that, in the first critical minutes of any emergency, a well trained emergency team andworkforce can help make the critical difference in life safety outcomes. Drills should include full, partial and shelter-in-place evacuations, designed in cooperation with local authorities, to familiarize employees with procedures.Companies also should review the NFPA Life Safety Code 101, especially section 4.7 which offers guidance onemergency egress and relocation drills, and OSHA 1910.38, which sets minimum requirements for emergency actionplans (EAPs) and fire prevention plans (FPPs). OSHA also provides its guidance on minimum requirements in itsrecently released Compliance Directive on Emergency Action Plans and Fire Prevention Plans (CPL 2-1.037).For more information, visit our Web site at travelers.com/riskcontrol, contact your RiskControl consultant or email Ask-Risk-Control@travelers.com.