Monday, June 24, 2013

Using Technology to Aid in Emergency Management

Using Technology to Aid in Emergency Management

After the effects of Sandy, it is evident that with today’s inclement weather, workplace emergency preparedness for businesses small to large is a must.  From Business Continuity Plans to Inclement Weather Policies, all businesses need to plan ahead.  We will look at today’s technology – APS available on your androids, iPhones, tablets and online tools to utilize in making your development and implementation process less stressful.

A new “buzz” on technology has erupted into emergency management from smartphone technology APS, online toolkits to web mapping technologies that assist in the development and enhancement of situational awareness to create “Intelligent Emergency Management” solutions.  These tools and aids do not eliminate the need to develop written policies and procedures and workplace incident specific training and drills for the workplace. 

APPS on our iPhones, tablets and android devices and RSS Feeds to our emails are becoming a popular way of staying on top of everything in our lives.  Environment Canada provides e-blasts to let you know of upcoming and current weather conditions to help you prepare.  FEMA has developed an APP that provides preparedness information for different types of disaster situations.  A few other APPS for iPhones and Androids are:

·         NFPA 1600 2007 Edition – This app provides disaster/emergency management and business continuity programs for your business

·         Incident Control Room – software to plan and prepare emergency management/natural disaster planning

·         SituationWare – Real-time Emergency Planning and Emergency Response Planning tool.

·         Send Word Now – provides an alert response system platform to quickly execute and track alerts to landlines and mobile devices.

This list is in no way exhaustive nor an endorsement of the above APPS or tools.

Toolkits and templates are abundant on the internet, from free guides to purchased toolkits to finding a consultant to come in and complete the project for you.  These are all personal choices based on the amount of time and resources one has internally in the workplace. 

 Where to start is probably foremost on your mind.  Below are a few online resources and search criteria’s to begin your research into what needs to be in place in your workplace:

·         Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety – Emergency Planning

·         Centres for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Response Resources ***

·         Safework Newfoundland & Labrador – Emergency Preparedness’ and Response PDF

·         Public Safety Council – links to provincial Emergency Management Planning

With the increased number of storms, the velocity of these storms and severity of the damage we have seen across North America, advanced business continuity and emergency planning is critical. OHSA and OSHA both require businesses to have emergency planning and training in place that are incident specific.  They must include such things as:

·         Workplace Hazard Lists

·         Personal Response for Maintenance

·         Fuel Source Hazard Response

·         Housekeeping

·         Escape and Route Assignments

·         Procedures for Employees who Remain at the Scene

·         Procedures to Account for Employees

·         Rescue and Medical Duties

·         Procedures for Reporting Emergencies

·         Contacts for Further Information

·         Alarm Systems

·         Evacuation Procedures

·         Training of Workers and Emergency Personnel

This list is not exhaustive and will depend greatly on the results of your hazard assessment and gap analysis of current procedures, policies and training in your organizations.  Your emergency planning should also take into account persons with disabilities – clients, guests, employees and suppliers that may be onsite during an emergency.  In Ontario – The AODA requires a review and update of policies and procedures under the General Standard as of this year – 2013. 

Lynne Bard, BA (Honours), C.H.R.P., CES
Human Resources, Safety & Risk Management Experts
Taking the Complexity out of Compliance
Beyond Rewards Inc.
Phone: 519-821-7440
Cell: 519-830-7480

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