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.raineycollins.co.nz If you have a legal inquiry you would like discussed in this column please email Alan on firstname.lastname@example.org