Some would argue it to be less a matter of if an emergency will occur, but rather when one will. One quick glance at any news outlet will tell you disasters can strike at any time, with little to no warning. It seems almost weekly that emergencies or storms take place that leave people injured (or worse) in their places of work. We hear reports of workplace violence more and more often. While we can never prevent some of these things from happening, we can be prepared in the event they do.
The American Red Cross lists three very simple steps to creating an emergency plan. 1) Discuss how to prepare for and respond to various types of emergencies. 2) Identify responsibility for each team member and how everyone will work together. 3) Practice. In mid-2016, Harold Edwards, our Safety Director, set the ball in motion to do just that, planning for a written Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and Preparedness Plan for our companies. He embarked on a two-year project, starting with drafting a basic policy covering our employees from fire, health- and weather-related emergencies (tornado, earthquake, flood) and workplace violence.
With the arrival of Izaac Robinson as safety intern in January 2017, the plan began moving from the planning phase to implementation. The initial plan was distributed between administration, various foremen and the equipment division for review. Izaac then spent several weeks researching the responding agencies for each location and coordinating site visits. These meetings were set up with appropriate response teams and, on occasion, with FEMA coordinators to discuss vision, seek input and develop relationships with our communities. Thus far, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and local fire departments have toured Plants 4 and 5, Perry and North Plants, and the Batesville and Wilson Street offices, with all other site visits to be completed by the end of summer.
Our primary goal is to be proactive in planning for the safety of our employees and the outside response teams who would come to our aid in the event of an emergency. We are also looking to find the most efficient ways to communicate with our employees, their families and the public should such a need arise. Just as we are committed to preventing incidents on the job, we are equally committed to being prepared to take action in any emergency.
Thank you to Harold and Izaac for leading our emergency preparedness efforts. Congratulations are also in order for Izaac, who graduated from intern status to become a permanent employee in July.