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Plant Explosion Emergency Response

How do I know if plant personnel responded properly to an emergency?

It doesn't matter what type of work environment you are in, dangers are all around you. Whether it is a slip and fall accident, or you are hit by a falling objet; accidents like this can happen in an office building or on a construction site. One place, however, that accidents are more likely to take place is in the industrial business. Working at plants, refineries, and the like can be a dangerous work environment, which is why so many standards have been implemented by the state and federal government in order to protect both the workers and the employers in the event of an accident.

The Occupation Safety & Health Administration, is one of these government agencies that are dedicated to holding high standards for workplace environments of all sorts throughout the country. While it is necessary that all employers abide by these standards of safety and care, in some cases that is not enough: accidents can and do still happen. Because of this ever present danger, the next step that is crucial for a company is having an efficient emergency response plan in the event of an accident or injury. As workers, it is your right to have an environment that is safe and well prepared for emergencies. In order to be prepared, there are a few general guidelines that must be adhered to in the workplace.

Response Planning

As stated by OSHA, if a company has over 10 employees, they are required to have a plan of action in case of an emergency. This plan should include steps for the management all the way down to every employee and what they're to do in an emergency. These plans should be reviewed with all those working at the company and regularly. Not only does the employment of a company grow and change over time, the responsibilities of certain people may in time as well; staying up to date and prepared is essential because you never know when an emergency may happen.

There must be clearly drawn evacuation plans placed, as well as steps and guidelines for people who are responsible to shut down plant operations before leaving. There should also be a system developed in order to account for all employees on the site at the time that way search and rescue won't have to waste time looking for someone who didn't show to work that day. Every person should know their various medical and rescue responsibilities, and there should be a system that allows for reporting emergencies in case the normal lines of communication are cut off.

Understanding the Chain of Command in an Emergency

While it is natural to think that a CEO or manager is responsible for everything in the building, in the event of an emergency there are going to need to be multiple hands on deck ready to perform important duties. Having this chain of command sorted out before an emergency is essential. Having an emergency coordinator is important so that they know the essential people to contact during the emergency, whether in the plant itself or when calling for outside assistance.

Employees should understand not only who this coordinator is, but also what their responsibilities are. This includes:

  • Assess the severity of the emergency, as well as create specific procedures to address each situation
  • Responsible for emergency evacuation, and any other emergency activities
  • Responsible to notify outside assistance and emergency response teams
  • In charge of the plant shut down operations and the delegation of other responsibilities

Emergency Response Teams

Emergency response teams need to be created at the workplace. This will help make sure that every aspect of an emergency is properly handled, each group having their specific requirements that they need to carry out. They must be trained in toxic hazards, fire emergency response, and when to call for outside response, etc. These teams also need training and certification in first aid, CPR, how to use a fire extinguisher, shutdown protocols, chemical spills, emergency response, hazardous materials response protocols, and the like. Though this list is extensive, it is important!

Employee Training

Employee training is an absolute must in any workplace, especially on industrial plants. Just as it is essential that all employees be properly equipped to handle their jobs and any equipment while working, it is also important that they are properly trained in emergency response—others' lives may depend on it. All employees (no matter what level the job title is) must be knowledgeable and prepared for an emergency. This includes being aware of evacuation, alarm systems, shutdown protocol, possible hazards with chemicals, equipment, and flammable materials, etc. Annual training is required by OSHA for all workplaces so that there is no excuse for being underprepared in the wake of a disaster.

Medical Response

Medical response on site is another crucial aspect of an industrial plants preparation. OSHA claims that first aid much be reachable on site in no more than 4 minutes (whether this is a hospital or a clinic); if not, a certified first-aid responder must be on site at all times when workers are there. No matter what, first aid kits must always be on site, as well as the phone numbers to any relevant response teams including: EMS, hospital emergency rooms, HAZMAT, etc.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job due to lack of emergency response, contact Arnold & Itkin today.

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