Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.18. Explain and apply emergency procedures in the workplace

ryanrori February 8, 2021

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Every organisation has to be prepared should an emergency arise because emergencies can create a variety of hazards for workers and customers.

Preparing before an emergency plays a vital role to ensure that employers and workers have the necessary equipment, know where to go, and know how to keep themselves safe when an emergency occurs.

An emergency plan isn’t specifically mentioned in section 8 of the OHSA but the terms “safe and without risk”, indirectly implies that you must be prepared for all risks, including emergencies.

Emergency preparedness means taking action to be ready for emergencies before they happen.

It refers to actions which can and must be performed prior to an emergency which will simplify decision making during an emergency.

You need to keep documentation as proof that you have an emergency preparedness and response plan in place or you could face a fine, or imprisonment for 12 months!

Emergency preparedness includes:

  • planning and coordination
  • procedure  writing
  • team training
  • emergency drills and exercises, and
  • prepositioning of emergency equipment

Apart from natural disasters, unavoidable incidents and deliberate attacks, all efforts must be directed at the prevention of any emergency prior to it occurring.

The Draft General Health and Safety Regulations of 2005 deals with the following matters which includes First Aid, Emergency Equipment and procedures which must be implemented in every workplace in the RSA. 

These regulations refer to general health and safety matters or requirements set for the work environment and include the following matters which could prevent an emergency or cause of an emergency:

  • Personal protective equipment and facilities
  • Intoxication
  • Display of substituted notices and signs
  • Admittance of persons
  • Prevention of transmission of HIV, Hepatitis Virus and other Blood-borne diseases
  • First aid, emergency equipment, and procedures
  • Use and storage of flammable liquids
  • Work in confined spaces
  • Work in elevated positions
  • Working in danger of engulfment
  • Stacking of articles
  • Welding, flame cutting, soldering and similar operations
  • Operating trains
  • Ladders
  • Ramps

OHSAS 18000 is an international occupational health and safety management system specification. It comprises two parts, 18001 and 18002.

OHSAS 18001 (Emergency preparedness and response requirements) was created via a concerted effort from a number of the world’s leading national standards bodies, certification bodies, and specialist consultancies. A main driver for this was to try to remove confusion in the workplace from the proliferation of certifiable OH&S specifications. One of the participants in formulating the specification was the South African Bureau of Standards.

The first step in preparing an emergency plan is to define an Emergency Response Team. This team should be made up of individuals who have sound understanding of the site process, local conditions and settings and the requirements of relevant environmental and health & safety legislation.

Use the principles of risk assessment to identify the potential for accidents and emergencies of all processes and activities. In addition to normal operations, the team should also consider abnormal operating conditions (such as start-up and shutdown)

Once this assessment is complete, the team should ask itself who will need access to the appropriate controls or plan.

Copies should be given to each of the key managers and everybody should have access to it. In addition, other copies can be placed at your reception desk and in each of the main buildings on site. Also consider contractors or visitors when distributing the plan.

Also communicate with local emergency services and regulators (Such as HSE, Fire Brigade and the Environment Agency) when developing the plan. They will be able to advise you on its structure and content. They may want to keep a copy of the plan for their purposes.

Time is of the essence in emergency and accident situations, so clearly outline key roles and responsibility and reporting procedures.

Conduct regular mock drills to train staff and get feedback on the effectiveness of your plans/procedures.