Optimising Your Workplace For Emergencies

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What would you do if a fire broke out right now? Or if a burglar came smashing through the front door?

No-one really expects emergencies but that doesn’t mean they don’t occur. They can strike at any time and anywhere and will cause a disruption of business. Your response will determine your chances of pulling through unscathed.

Emergencies can be natural or man-made. In fact, they include:

  • robberies.
  • fire outbreaks.
  • sudden adverse weather conditions viz. earthquakes, floods, hail etc.
  • extended power outages.
  • poisoning.
  • electrocution.
  • chemical spills.
  • bomb threats.

When these occur at work, they disrupt and threaten the safety and well being of staff, customers and often cause cessation of activities. When faced with an emergency, it’s human to panic and freeze. One can barely think logically to save themselves, much less anyone else who may need assistance.

The best way to prepare for an emergency is to expect the unexpected and set up a well thought out emergency plan to address it.

The three steps below can be used to ensure you are optimising your workplace for emergencies:


Start by brainstorming worst-case scenarios. Additional data can be obtained by walking around your facility to identify and assess potential hazards. You can also go through incident reports for reports on near-misses. All this is done to anticipate emergencies peculiar to your business.

Next, draw up an emergency action plan that details the roles of employers and employees. When planning emergency responses, there are five issues to be considered:

1. Notification.

How does the first person on scene spread the word to everyone? You need to design a system that all employees are trained to use. The type of emergency will determine the location of alarms.

2. How do you limit employee exposure?

As part of the training given, appoint a competent person(s) or first responder who is trained to handle the situation. Mandate everyone else to evacuate the premises.

3. Outline a clearly defined hazard control process.

In the event of a fire, do you wait for the Fire Service or will you have fire-fighting equipment on site?

4. Medical Treatment.

Do you have a member of staff trained to give medical treatment, such as general first aid or CPR? Do you need to have basic life support systems on site?

5. The aftermath.

In the case where a clean-up procedure is required, what safety measures must be in place to carry this out? Who does what?

Training of Employees:

Anticipation and planning will fail if your staff are oblivious to the part they are to play. Training is vital for managing emergencies. You must let your staff know what the employer expects of them.

This can be buttressed by weekly drills where everyone is expected to perform their assigned roles whilst being timed. The goal is to beat the previous week’s time, in an orderly fashion. Ideally, the drills should occur at regular intervals throughout the year.

Let’s use fire as an example of an emergency. Anticipating the emergency will involve carrying out a fire risk assessment to identify all fire hazards.

This will include:

  • Identification of people at risk e.g. the elderly and disabled.
  • Management should evaluate, remove or reduce the hazards.
  • A record of findings must be kept.
  • A quarterly review and update to the fire risk assessment is advised.

Next, consider the emergency response:

  • Are there clearly marked emergency exits?
  • Do you have appropriate fire detection and fighting equipment?
  • Is there a widely-communicated fire evacuation plan: does everyone know the evacuation routes and assembly points?

Every member of staff must undergo fire safety training. From the first day on the job, you must ensure that staff know the fire drill. Appointment of competent person’ to help, e.g. a professional risk assessor, if you don’t have the expertise or time to do the fire risk assessment yourself.

An emergency-like fire is often so devastating, that many businesses never re-open after one. At a cost of over £8 billion annually, fire is one emergency your business must avoid at all costs. This involves installing the right fire fighting equipment. Ensure your business premises are fitted with alarms, sprinklers, and fire proof roller shutters.

These shutters can create a barrier between the fire and other rooms. Halting the rapid spread just might make the difference between life and death in some cases. Ready to take the first step to protect your business? Not optimising your workplace for emergencies? Contact SRL Limited for high quality fire-resistant roller shutters.

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