The Best Advice: DO
It’s not an exaggeration to call Nick Lisio an expert in emergency action planning. As director of risk and safety for Active Staffing, he stays close to federal, state and local environmental and safety regulations. He has experience developing safety and emergency action plans for private and public companies. And, he served for 14 years as a crime prevention officer with the New York Police Department.
Nick knows his stuff. For companies that are looking to create or update their emergency action plans and are wondering where to start, Nick offers this single piece of advice:
Help each other out. If you see something, DO something. Don’t just SAY something. Don’t wait for someone else do to something. Take it one step above. DO it yourself. Get it done.
And how do people know what to DO? That’s where an Emergency Action Plan comes into play.
What is an Emergency Action Plan?
Simply put, an Emergency Action Plan or EAP is a well-thought-out plan to ensure the safety of all employees and people during an emergency. It enables businesses to prepare and train their teams to know what to DO and how stay safe in any type of incident.
An emergency is any situation that poses an immediate threat to life and or property. What comes to mind for most people are things like fire, natural or propane gas leaks or exposure to hazardous materials.
Natural disasters also create emergencies — tornadoes, floods, blizzards and earthquakes.
Unfortunately, emergencies also include workplace violence, harassment, and bomb threats.
And, active shooter situations. It seems like this type of emergency is in the news more than ever these days. The data are chilling.
- According to FBI data, there were 160 active shooter incidents from 2000-2013, and they are becoming more frequent.
- Active shooter situations have occurred in 40 of 50 states
- 70 percent of active shooter events occurred in commercial settings like businesses and office buildings
- 60 percent of the time, the incident ended before police arrived
Five Reasons Why You Need an Emergency Action Plan
“Every company should have an EAP,” Lisio says. “It shows care and concern for your employees.”
Larger companies have had EAPs for decades but now, with what’s going on the world, every business in every state needs one. Here’s why.
1 – Companies need an EAP to keep people safe in any type of emergency.
2 – OSHA and a growing number of local regulations require EAPs. Your EAP is the first thing OSHA is going to ask about during a compliance audit.
3 – EAPs form an essential element of employee training programs, as important to the team as knowing the basics of their job and the hours of your assignment.
4 – EAPs provide the details for recognizing potential issues, communicating during an emergency, alerting emergency responders, escape routes, accounting for employees, and more. When an emergency happens, people MUST know what to do.
5 – EAPs can also include information on how to administer first aid and who has completed CPR training. Increasingly, they also include an AED program, specific policies that prepare a company to help someone who is having a heart attack.
6 – Having an EAP in place may lower a company’s insurance premiums.
Not every company has a Nick Lisio on the payroll but that doesn’t mean they can’t create a rock-solid Emergency Action Plan. Numerous consultants and outside firms make it their business to help companies of all sizes create and review their EAPs.
Employee volunteers are another resource companies can use to create and maintain their EAP.
“Local law enforcement can also help,” Lisio said, “especially the growing number of neighborhood community officers. Part of their job, their patrol, is to stop by to stay connected and get involved in these programs with companies on their beat.”
An EAP has to be more than a document that sits on the shelf. It must include training plans and drills at least twice a year.
Lisio gives this example of why an EAP can be more than a document in a company’s policy manual. “I recommend businesses keep a folder on every floor or department with everyone’s names on it, and to keep that information updated,” he said. “When an emergency evacuation occurs, the designated manager needs to grab the roster and bring it to the pre-arranged meeting point to take attendance. This ensures that everyone is accounted for and safe.”
Who has a role?
The most important thing in preparing for any emergency is communication.
“A few years ago, I worked with a manager who fired an employee. I found out later that the ex-employee had left a note on the manager’s car threatening that he was going to come after her, Lisio recalls. “The manager’s first response was, ‘I’m not afraid,’ but our safety team didn’t take the threat lightly. We worked with the local police department found out that this person had 15 unregistered weapons.
“The point is, even if a threat seems small, it needs to be reported,” he said. “Everyone has to be involved in the EAP, from the janitor or doorman to the CEO.”
Here are some specific roles for creating any company’s EAP.
Leadership: They need to take EAPs and the threat of workplace issues seriously and implement the planning and budget to create these plans.
Managers: All managers need to know the plan and be able to implement it when necessary, to be aware of workplace violence indicators, and to take immediate action when a situation occurs. They should get to know the people on their team who have medical issues or disabilities that may require special handling during an emergency.
Human Resources: This group’s emergency planning begins at the hiring process by conducting effective background checks and including EAP training in new-hire orientation. Post-hire, HR teams typically schedule ongoing training, create system for reporting threatening or violent behavior, and making counseling available to employees.
All employees: Everyone needs to understand the plan and what to do in an emergency. They need to participate in drills. And, they need to know and practice the Run-Hide-Fight protection system. Their lives might depend on it.
Emergency Action Plan Checklist
When creating or updating your company’s EAP, be sure it includes these things:
- The means of reporting fires and other emergencies
- Evacuation and emergency escape procedures
- Safe meeting destinations after an evacuation
- Accounting for all employees after an evacuation is completed
- Plans for employees who may need to remain behind briefly to complete critical functions before they evacuate, like IT
- Names and contact information for those who are certified in first aid, CPR and AED
- Contact information for notifying people within the company about an emergency if they are not present on scene, like the CEO or the media spokesperson
- A schedule for regular EAP training and evacuation drills for every person
You Can’t Over-Prepare
“The ironic thing about an EAP is that you don’t know if you’ll ever need one until the moment an emergency occurs,” Lisio said.
All companies should create and maintain an Emergency Action Plan for their place of business. The life of every employee depends on it.