By definition (from OSHA), a workplace emergency is “a situation that threatens workers, customers, or the public; disrupts or shuts down operations; or causes physical or environmental damage. Emergencies may be natural or man-made and may include hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, winter weather, chemical spills or releases, disease outbreaks, releases of biological agents, explosions involving nuclear or radioactive sources, and many other hazards.” Many types of emergencies can be anticipated in the planning process, which can help employers and workers plan for other unpredictable situations.
The actions taken in the initial minutes of an emergency are critical. A prompt warning to employees to evacuate, shelter or lock-down can save lives. A call for help to public emergency services that provides full and accurate information will help the dispatcher send the right responders and equipment. An employee trained to administer first aid or perform CPR can be lifesaving. Action by employees with knowledge of building and process systems can help control a leak and minimize damage to the facility and the environment.