Health and safety emergencies

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Health and safety emergencies

By law, employers must have plans and procedures to deal with emergencies.

Risk assessment should identify any emergencies that might affect the workplace and people's safety or health. Special procedures will be needed to deal with emergencies, such as electrocution, fire, explosion, flooding, serious injury or chemical spills. Other emergencies may be more specific to the work or activities at the workplace, such as drowning where there is a swimming pool.

In emergencies people are more likely to respond reliably if they:

  • Are well trained and competent
  • Take part in regular and realistic practice
  • Have clearly agreed, recorded and rehearsed plans, actions and responsibilities

Points to include in emergency procedures:

  • Consider what might happen and how to raise the alarm. Don't forget night and shift working, weekends and times when the premises are closed, e.g. holidays
  • Plan what to do, including how to call the emergency services. Help them by clearly marking your premises from the road. Draw a simple plan showing the location of hazardous items
  • Identify where to go to reach a place of safety or get rescue equipment. Provide suitable forms of emergency lighting
  • Ensure there are enough emergency exits for everyone to escape quickly, and keep emergency doors and escape routes unobstructed and clearly marked
  • Nominate competent people to take control
  • Identify the key people you need, such as a nominated incident controller, someone who is able to provide technical and other site-specific information if necessary, or first-aiders
  • Plan emergency plant shutdowns, isolation or making processes safe. Clearly identify important items like shut-off valves and electrical isolators etc
  • Train everyone in emergency procedures. Don't forget the needs of people with disabilities and vulnerable workers
  • Work should not resume after an emergency if a serious danger remains. If you have any doubts ask for assistance from the emergency services
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