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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Have you prepared & tested your Emergency Management Plan?

Maralyn Kastel - Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Work Health & Safety Regulations requires you to have an Emergency Management Plan. This is similar to an evacuation plan. It provides crucial information to your workers on what to do in an emergency.  The following information is a starting point for you to develop your specific requirements.

An emergency plan is similar to an evacuation plan. It provides crucial information to your workers on what to do in an emergency.

What do I need to do? – Getting started

The PCBU (employer) must make sure that an emergency plan is prepared, maintained and implemented for the workplace.

The emergency plan procedures must include:

  • an effective response to an emergency
  • evacuation procedures
  • notifying emergency services
  • medical treatment and assistance
  • communication processes
  • testing of the emergency procedures, including the frequency of testing
  • information, training and instruction to relevant workers in relation to implementing the emergency management plan and procedures.

Additionally, depending on the nature of the business operations, your emergency plan may also include a disaster recovery plan component with:

  1. Planning a return to service of equipment, machinery, utilities etc
  2. Restoring IT and critical services
  3. Accommodation of essential workers (eg technicians, engineers etc)
  4. Cash handling and robbery risk
  5. Implementing a disaster recovery plan (as may be necessary)

You also need to consider all relevant matters when preparing the plan, including:

  • the nature of the work being carried out at the workplace
  • the nature of the hazards at the workplace
  • the size and location of the workplace
  • the number and composition of the workers and other persons at the workplace.

Set emergency plan objectives

The main objectives of such a plan are to:

  1. Reduce any threats to people, property, the environment and the business
  2. Control and minimise the effect of any event
  3. Make that workers are aware of their responsibilities (“who does what, when and how”), with back-up workers identified
  4. Make sure that the workers receive appropriate training to perform their roles

A good plan is a living document which is reviewed regularly including conducting a new risk assessment when changes occur in the workplace.

Identify roles and responsibilities for:

  1. Initial response to emergency
  2. Notifying members of the emergency management team
  3. Identifying if it is a false alarm
  4. Assessing the nature of the emergency
  5. Establishing what emergency plans to activate
  6. Sounding the alarm
  7. Evacuation signals
  8. Liaising with authorities
  9. Liaising with fire/floor wardens
  10. Maintaining communication

Consult your workers

Make sure that you include your workers in the consultation process when developing your plan.  This may also include any Health & safety representatives or Committees.  You will also need to provide training for the implementation of the emergency management plan.  This can be conducted and repeated in a number of different ways at different times including:

  1. Health & safety induction
  2. Health & safety training
  3. Toolbox talks
  4. Newsletters
  5. Information on all health & safety noticeboard
  6. Information and consultation with health & safety representatives or health & safety committee.

Display the documents in the workplace including:

  • Evacuation plans or procedures
  • Emergency contacts
  • First aid equipment locations.

It’s no good having a plan if it sits on a shelf or an obscure computer drive.  Make it readily available and accessible.

Review and test the emergency plan:

If there is a change in circumstances at the premises or near premises which make the current plan invalid. Review and test your emergency plan at least annually.

Test the emergency plan:

  • after it is developed
  • after any changes are made
  • at regular intervals and at least every year (depending on your business, six monthly may be better)

Do stimulated emergencies and other exercises involving all people at the workplace who may be likely to be involved in a serious incident.  Make sure the exercises are practical.

Update the plan when:

  • circumstances change on or off the premises which causes a change in the level or type of risks
  • new information is identified for risks
  • gaps are identified in the plan

Note:  There are separate and different requirements for a major hazard facility.

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