Plan be­fore it all goes wrong


If you are run­ning a busi­ness, un­der­tak­ing or a not-for­profit you need to en­sure it has an emer­gency plan in place.

Any emer­gen­cies that rea­son­ably could oc­cur in your work­place need to be cov­ered.

The most com­mon ones are fire and earthquake. The plans for th­ese can be quite sim­ple, and in­clude such things as call­ing 111 for fire, how to evac­u­ate, check­ing ev­ery­one is out, where to as­sem­ble, use of fire­fight­ing equip­ment, etc.

With earthquakes it could in­clude drop cover and hold, wait­ing for the all clear, use of res­cue equip­ment, how to evac­u­ate if re­quired, where to as­sem­ble, and call­ing 111 to re­port in­juries.

Emer­gency plans for other sorts of events may be a bit more com­pli­cated and of course de­pend on the type of in­dus­try you are in and the likely haz­ards and emer­gen­cies you may face.

The emer­gency plan for a ma­jor chem­i­cal spill will re­quire a lot more tech­ni­cal in­put than deal­ing with an an­gry cus­tomer.

The lay­out of your busi­ness premises may be an im­por­tant part of your plan. Are work ar­eas to be kept sep­a­rate from pub­lic ar­eas? How will staff be pro­tected from a cus­tomer or in­truder? Do you need coun­ters, se­cu­rity screens, or panic but­tons?

It will all de­pend on the risks in your busi­ness. Th­ese will not al­ways be ex­ter­nal so your plan needs to also cover what hap­pens if the threat comes from an in­ter­nal source, for ex­am­ple another staff mem­ber.

The Health & Safety law is not just about safety. The health part is just as im­por­tant.

This is not just health is­sues from things like chem­i­cals but also from things like stress from over­work or from bad be­hav­iour such as bul­ly­ing.

You need to con­sider what could hap­pen. That is, iden­tify the hazard or risk and then elim­i­nate it, if prac­ti­ca­ble to do so.

If you can’t elim­i­nate it, then you must min­imise the risk – and that is where the emer­gency plan plays its role.

De­cide what the re­sponse should be, who needs to be no­ti­fied, who makes de­ci­sions, what those de­ci­sions have to be around, and so on.

You should en­gage with your staff in iden­ti­fy­ing the risks and in com­ing up with the emer­gency plan.

Th­ese are com­pul­sory

‘‘De­cide what the re­sponse should be, who needs to be no­ti­fied, who makes de­ci­sions.’’

re­quire­ments un­der the Health and Safety at Work Act and very help­ful in get­ting ex­tra eyes on the is­sues around the work­place.

Once the plan is in place you need to en­sure that all staff are aware of it and what they need to do.

Train­ing and prac­tices – like a fire drill – are im­por­tant parts of en­sur­ing staff know what to do.

You need to make sure plans are kept up to date and re­main rel­e­vant.

Reg­u­larly re­view the plan with staff en­gage­ment.

Do not draft the plan and in­tro­duce it with great fan­fare and back-slap­ping only to file it away never to be looked at again. Get it out and put it into ac­tion. Test to en­sure it is known and fol­lowed.

Only then is the plan any use when the emer­gency does strike.

Col­umn cour­tesy of RAINEY COLLINS LAWYERS phone 0800 733 484 www.rain­ey­ If you have a le­gal inquiry you would like dis­cussed in this col­umn please email Alan on aknowsley@rain­ey­

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