Emergency Preparedness for Job Sites: Protecting Safety and Operations During Crisis

Crew members reviewing site plans to ensure job site securityA job site emergency can stop your work in its tracks. Your team will need to address any injuries and get your affected employees to the nearby hospitals. You will need to evaluate any lost inventory or damaged equipment — including how long it will take to replace them. Even minor issues can cause project delays that prevent your company from operating at its best.

You can’t prevent every emergency, but you can develop plans to react to them effectively. Now is a good time to review your emergency preparedness plans and update them with more detail and better response solutions. Here are a few steps you can take.

Develop an Emergency Action Plan

An emergency action plan covers all of the information your team needs to react during a crisis. It will cover everything from who your team members should contact when they are first aware of the emergency to when the business can resume normal operations after the fact.

Your goal is to make your emergency action plan as detailed as possible, leaving no room for ambiguity or confusion. Even if you have existing response plans, they might not be thorough enough to fully address various crises. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Immediate containment of the emergency and medical attention to workers.
  • Evacuation plans, including where to evacuate and who to check in with.
  • Reporting the emergency and thoroughly documenting it.
  • Processes for business continuity and returning to work.

In all likelihood, you will have action plans specific to various crises. For example, you will respond differently to a site fire than if an employee is seriously injured by a piece of equipment. People often panic when faced with an emergency. Your preparedness plans help people follow a detailed set of steps so they don’t have to think about what to do next.

Train Employees for Emergency Response

While your leadership team will likely lead the emergency response development plan, your employees will be the ones who have to execute it. You don’t want your team’s first encounter with your response plan to occur during an emergency. Instead, train your team on different crises and potential problems and how to respond to them.

This process is as simple as scheduling routine fire drills or reviewing safety policies every time you enter a new job site. Additionally, you can schedule annual safety training for your employees to go into further detail about how these responses work. Here are a few elements that can be part of the training:

  • Discussing basic fire safety, like using a fire blanket and fire extinguisher.
  • Identifying who will call emergency services in the event of a crisis.
  • Reviewing how to safely handle power tools, electric wiring, and dangerous chemicals on the work site.
  • Reinforcing day-to-day safety practices, like wearing eye protection and visibility vests.

The types of safety training you go over will depend on the nature of your work. Not every employee will deal with electrical hazards or chemical spills. You might need to dedicate more time to some subjects than others.

Post Emergency Information Around the Site

You can’t expect your employees to remember every detail of their safety training. This is why you reinforce your safety best practices throughout the year. Additionally, post emergency information around the job site so your employees can jump into action in the event of a crisis.

One of the most important things to post throughout the site is emergency contact information. While your team already knows to call 911 in an emergency, they might not have the address of the job site memorized. Make sure the person who calls for help can relay the address, correct entrance gate, and location of the emergency on the site. You can also post information about the nearest medical facilities for team members who need to be rushed to the hospital.

Provide Employees With Protective Equipment

Basic safety equipment can go a long way toward preventing injuries. Safety goggles can prevent small items from falling into workers’ eyes. Bright vests can alert equipment drivers that people are walking in the vicinity. Proper investment in personal protective equipment (PPE) can potentially reduce the number of incidents on your job sites every year.

Follow OSHA guidelines to make sure you have the right PPE and enough equipment for all of your staff. This is an essential step any time you start a new job as your equipment needs might change from site to site.

Plan for Supply Chain Disruptions

Even if your job site is currently running without any crises, an emergency with a supplier can disrupt your operations. Your team will need to jump into action to overcome these disruptions so your projects can keep moving forward.

One important step is to develop backup vendors who can step in if your main supplier has an issue. For example, if you can’t get the diesel delivery you need, another company can provide this service. Some companies even offer emergency generator refueling for those who want to jump the line for priority service when disaster strikes.

Planning for supplier issues ahead of time can prevent prolonged disruptions by ensuring that you have enough materials on-site to keep working. For example, without enough red diesel — which is significantly more affordable than clear diesel because it is untaxed — your team won’t be able to keep your heavy equipment running. All of your work comes to a grinding halt because of a fuel source. Instead, you can call in your emergency fuel services so your job site stays operational.

Ensure Medical Assistance Is Accessible

If the job site is more than four minutes from the nearest medical facility, you need someone on hand at all times who has first aid training. These people will jump into action to treat injuries and stabilize conditions before the person can be taken to a hospital.

OSHA has guidelines for the types of medical training this person needs. You can also learn more about the medical training services from the Red Cross to learn about first aid courses.

Along with proper training, make sure there is adequate first aid equipment on site. Every employee should know where it is located and be able to access it easily. In a crisis, no one should have to search for a first aid kit.

Designate a Secure Shelter

Some emergency situations may require on-site personnel to temporarily shelter in place. A severe thunderstorm can bring lightning, hail, and even tornadoes to your job site. Not only can your employees not work at this time, but they need to stay out of the elements.

Make sure each job site has a secure shelter and your employees know where it is. The shelter should be easily accessible to all workers, protect from flying debris and airborne hazards, and have enough space for your entire crew. You can also practice drills alerting employees to seek shelter so they know where to go.

Emergency planning is a key part of any project. By taking steps to plan for a crisis ahead of time, you can respond quickly if something unfortunate occurs.

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