There are certain practices that you cannot overlook if you’re determined to make an effective emergency evacuation plan for your company. It’s important to start at the beginning and have the necessary foundation for quality employee safety.
Before taking any large steps for planning, let alone practicing, it is important to know what the risks your company is facing. An easy way to think about a risk assessment is as a theoretical equation. Risk (R) is equal to the threat (T) multiplied by the vulnerability (V) to that threat (R=TxV). It is not meant to be taken literally, per say, but it serves to illustrate the point that if there is no threat or vulnerability, there is no risk. The risk will depend heavily on the industry, as well as the steps that have been taken for hazard mitigation.
Knowing what types of risks your company faces allows you to make the most appropriately formed emergency evacuation plan. This will inform the employees of what types of hazards they should be prepared to encounter, and it will point to locations within buildings that should be avoided or are more likely needed to be evacuated. After a successful risk assessment, you’ll also be able to focus on the most likely types of issues your company will face and ignore all potential risks that either have no threat or you’re invulnerable to.
Once you know what you’re planning for and are aware of the most likely areas and employees to be affected by potential risks, it is time to begin the planning stage. One of the best practices for any type of planning is to keep expectations realistic. To do this, simply begin by making sure that all evacuation procedures are intuitive. The less that you plan for people to remember, the better off you are. If certain alarms are meant to distinguish between emergencies, or evacuation plans are dependent on memorized factors, there is a greater margin for error.
All planning should be simple to follow. Simplicity is the root of an effective emergency evacuation plan. Make sure that there are not too many steps involved. Think of each step as another chance for someone to do the wrong thing. When a worker evacuates incorrectly, there is a greater chance of physical and even psychological damage. The better you plan, the more you can reduce the chances of trauma.
No matter how simple you can make your emergency evacuation plan, it will still need to be practiced to be effective. Institutions such as schools are constantly reminded of the importance of emergency drills, but most businesses do not hold themselves to the same standard, consistent practice. It is extremely important to practice the emergency plans you’ve made for the purposes of employee training and troubleshooting the plan itself.
While practicing, you should keep an eye on any misunderstandings employees have. It is important to get to the root of the confusion rather than simply correct them in the moment. Every issue with the emergency evacuation plan has the potential to become a systemic failure in overall preparedness. As far as troubleshooting, doors and locks should be assessed to see if there are any issues with functionality. When security devices are not maintained by a trained commercial locksmith, they can become a hazard during the evacuation. A door that does not open in an emergency can easily result in tragedy.
Companies cannot rely on employees taking personal preparedness into their own hands. It is up to the business itself to take the lead on employee protection. This requires going through the practice of assessing risks, making a plan, and practicing that plan. As long as a company is considering all the necessary elements, they will have an effective emergency evacuation plan.
Ralph Goodman is a professional writer and the resident expert on locks and security over at the Lock Blog. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about keys, locks and safety. They offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.