Preparing your business for an emergency

Preparing your business for an emergency

Action Training Academy (ATA) director, Alastair Farish, points out that the solution to managing medical emergencies, unexpected fires or building evacuations is a structured health and safety (H&S) approach.

Step one: Training

Companies are required to ensure that their workforces are trained in the disciplines of firefighting, first aid and evacuation planning.

It is important to ensure that the trained H&S team is evenly spread out across the organisation’s building structure. Take, for example, a large organisation that has ten buildings. If there is a heart attack in building number eight, then it is of utmost importance that there is a person trained in first aid within that building.

It is best practice to have a first aider located within four to six minutes of any location within the organisation. If someone suffers cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) must be administered within four to six minutes – if this doesn’t happen, irreversible tissue damage to the brain can occur.

In addition, it is important to carefully select staff for each role and to ensure that each H&S team member is trained in only one of the disciplines. Very often we find that, in haste to complete training requirements, organisations often train one person in first aid, firefighting as well as evacuation planning – only to find that during a real emergency or evacuation drill, they can fulfil only one role.

Have three people trained in separate disciplines, instead of one person in all three disciplines. It is important to spread these lifesaving skills across the workforce.

Step two: Equipment

With a trained health and safety team, the organisation needs to ensure that appropriate equipment is procured and installed in the correct locations across the company’s premises.

It is often difficult for organisations to determine what they actually need to comply with the regulatory requirements, as these are quite complex and there is definite science behind it. ATA’s H&S practitioners often assist organisations with an “H&S Equipment Assessment” which determines what equipment is necessary.

The size of the premises, type of production being undertaken and occupancy classification all form part of the assessment. Technicians then supply, install and maintain the firefighting, first aid, evacuation and H&S equipment.

Step three: Management

The success of creating a healthy, safe and prepared environment depends largely on senior management/executive buy-in, as well as the establishment of an H&S committee – which is responsible for driving the success of the H&S strategy.

The committee is made up of health and safety supervisors and representatives, who are required by law to meet at least every three months.

ATA’s aim is to assist organisations to prepare themselves for unplanned emergency crises. Our philosophy is to create awareness and preparedness, and, in so doing, minimise risk and loss of life. H&S is not an option, it is an obligation, and we need to create a healthy, safe and prepared environment for everyone!

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