Workplaces need a strategy for emergencies that can have a wider impact. Special procedures are needed for emergencies such as serious injuries, explosion, flood, poisoning, electrocution, fire, release of radioactivity and chemical spills. Do you have a workplace Rescue plan in place?
A quick and effective action plan may help to ease the situation and reduce the consequences. However, in emergencies people are more likely to respond reliably if they:
- are well trained and competent
- take part in regular and realistic practice
- have clearly agreed, recorded and rehearsed plans, actions and responsibilities
We recommend that you write an emergency plan, so if a major incident at your workplace happens you are prepared. The plan could involve risks to the public, rescuing employees or co-ordinating emergency services.
Where you share your workplace with another employer you should consider whether your emergency plans and procedures should be co-ordinated so you can work together.
Points to include in your workplace rescue plan
- Consider what might happen and how the alarm will be raised. Don’t forget night and shift working, weekends and times when the premises are closed, eg holidays – Lone workers
- Plan what to do, including how to call the emergency services. When raising the alarm, does the site have good mobile signal reception, do people call the emergency services themselves or appoint a people in the company such as the receptionist or security guard.
- Help them by clearly marking your premises from the road. Which entrance should the emergency services use. Consider drawing up a simple plan showing the location of hazardous items and have a delegate ready to meet them and direct to the emergency.
- If working off site, can emergency services get to you?
- If you have 25 tonnes or more of dangerous substances, you must notify the fire and rescue service and put up warning signs
- Decide where to go to reach a place of safety or to get rescue equipment. You must provide suitable forms of emergency lighting
- You must make sure there are enough emergency exits for everyone to escape quickly, and keep emergency doors and escape routes unobstructed and clearly marked
- Are people trained in the use of Fire extinguishers and when to use them,.
- Nominate competent people to take control (a competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety)
- Decide which other key people you need, such as a nominated incident controller, someone who is able to provide technical and other site-specific information if necessary, or first-aiders
- Plan essential actions such as emergency plant shutdown, isolation or making processes safe. Clearly identify important items like shut-off valves and electrical isolators etc
- You must train everyone in emergency procedures. Don’t forget the needs of people with disabilities and vulnerable workers
- If working at height can everyone get down, if someone is injured while off the ground what procedures will you adopt to help get them down safely. Systems like evacuation chairs and training for their use maybe an essential aid for people with disabilities and vulnerable workers to help with quick evacuations.
- Rescue kits to aid in absailing down to injured persons.
- Do you have any confined spaces which may need a specific plan for escape.
- Specific PPE – Escape sets which people are trained and experienced in using maybe a consideration. Practice of such kits will aid in ensuring there is no panic which would delay the rescue efforts.
- Work should not resume after an emergency if a serious danger remains. If you have any doubts ask for assistance from the emergency services
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 cover emergencies.
The Dangerous Substances (Notification and Marking of Sites) Regulations 1990 cover sites where at least 25 tonnes of dangerous substances are held.
More details on the legislation and regulations is available on the HSE website.
It’s great to have a plan in place, but you also need to make sure everyone know what the Rescue plan is and what to do. Training is essential, from First Aiders to the use of the emergency escape equipment and fire warden training.