Emergencies can happen in the blink of an eye. One minute everything seems fine; the next minute, an emergency can ensue. And when it does, you want to make sure that you and your employees are prepared. In Canada, an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is something that every employer must-have.
It outlines exactly what an employee should do in the case of an emergency, as well as who they need to contact. Let’s take a closer look at emergency response plans and what they should include.
Developing a Risk Assessment
The first step in creating an Emergency Response Plan is to develop a risk assessment. A risk assessment is designed to help you identify potential hazards and what emergencies could arise.
Are forest fires common where you are? Are landfalls something you need to be concerned with? Are there fire hazards in your workplace? Is workplace violence something you need to think about?
There are lots of things and situations that could turn into potential emergencies, and you must have a plan in place in case these things do arise.
What is at Risk?
In determining how you will proceed in the case of an emergency, you also need to consider what is at stake. Are your employees at risk? Maybe you are concerned about your systems or equipment?
Is it your reputation that you need to worry about? People aren’t the only things at stake when it comes to emergencies, so you’ll want to develop an Emergency Response Plan that incorporates procedures for all of your concerns.
What should an Emergency Response Plan include?
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety offers an excellent book that can help you to develop a solid Emergency Response Plan.
The book can not only help you to build your risk assessment but can also help you to identify potential emergencies and losses. In addition to this, the booklet enables you to develop policies and responses for possible emergencies and develop a business recovery plan.
Other things that should be included within your Emergency Response Plan are evacuation plans and drills and ways to improve safety within your workplace continuously.
Protective Actions for Life Safety
When it’s humans that are at risk, you must have a safety plan put in place in the event of an emergency. There are 3 Protective Actions for Life Safety that you should consider within your Emergency Response Plan:
There are many different reasons that you might need to evacuate your building. Natural disasters, fires, terrorist threats, and chemical spills are just a few of the things you might need to consider when running a business (depending on your location). If one of these things happens, you need to have an evacuation plan in place.
- Do you have at least two exits on each floor?
- Are your fire alarms working properly?
- Can your warning system be heard throughout the building?
- Do you have exit signs posted?
- Where should people evacuate to?
- What exits should people take if there is a necessary evacuation?
- Who is your evacuation team leader?
- Is there anything the team leader needs to take with them in the event of an evacuation?
These are all things that you need to consider if you should ever have to evacuate your building.
- Sheltering/Sheltering in Place
Let’s say there is a severe Tornado warning in place. Where should you and your employees go? Some buildings have basements or interior rooms that are reinforced to handle strong winds and storms. If you have a place like this, you can designate it as your shelter in the event of an emergency.
If you don’t have any reinforced or “safe” rooms, you might need to work on a plan for “sheltering in place”. In such a case, everyone in the building should move away from windows and into the middle of the building; anyone outdoors should move indoors. Depending on the cause of the emergency, you may need to change which room(s) you will use as the shelter-in-place.
Suspected gunshots, dangerous animals on the loose – there are lots of reasons that your company may need to go into lockdown. If a lockdown is necessary, you need to train your employees where they should go and hide if necessary.
Emergency Response Plan vs. Canada Emergency Response Benefit
Because the names are so similar, many people confuse Emergency Response Plans with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). But in reality, the two are very different things.
CERB was a benefit that the Government provided during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Due to the pandemic, those who were out of work were eligible to receive up to $500 per week to cover losses. The benefit was a part of Canada’s Emergency Response Plan to the pandemic.
Note: CERB is no longer available.
In conclusion, if you own a business, you need to have an Emergency Response Plan in place for all of your employees. In the event of an emergency, an ERP can help to keep you and your employees safe.