Prepare for Tomorrow’s Emergency Today

emergencyFor most of us, one day does not look much different from the next. We wake up at the same time. We take the same route to work. Maybe we take a coffee break around 10 a.m., followed by lunch at noon.

But what if something interrupts our routine? Not a traffic jam or a flat tire, mind you. Think bigger.

Fires, tornados, power outages and other emergencies can put your employees at risk and derail your business. In fact, up to 40 percent of small businesses do not reopen after an emergency, according to the American Red Cross.

Ninety-four percent of small business owners believe a disaster could seriously disrupt their business within the next two years, yet only 35 percent have comprehensive disaster recovery plan.

September is National Preparedness Month, a perfect time to prepare for tomorrow’s emergency today. Emergency preparedness plans vary by industry, but they should all address these five things:

Assigning accountability. Form a team of voluntary first responders (VFRs) that includes employees from across the company.

Evacuating. Establish mulitiple evacuation routes, and clearly mark them. And don’t forget a process for sheltering in place. Practice both processes so employees know exactly what to do during an emergency.

Treating victims. Your VFRs might have to deliver first aid while you wait for the ambulance . It is crucial that first aid kits, defibrillators and fire extinguishers be clearly marked, easy to get to and in good condition.

Reporting emergencies. If you stay calm when you call 9-1-1, your chances of getting prompt support increase. Calmly describe the emergency. Tell the operator the address where the emergency happened, and provide directions. Let the operator guide the conversation, and stay on the line until he or she tells you it is okay to hang up.

Getting back to business. Your employees’ safety should be your priority during an emergency. Afterward, work toward recovering and returning to business as soon as possible. Identifying core business functions and the employees who perform those functions is crucial.

Get more information

The federal government launched an emergency preparedness website at ready.gov. The site includes information on preparing your home and your business for an emergency.

Texas Mutual policyholders can also visit the safety resource center at texasmutual.com for an online video titled, “Disaster Readiness.” The video is available in English and Spanish.

This article originally appeared in CompNews, Texas Mutual’s policyholder newsletter. Click here for the unabridged version on page three.

Highlights From TDI’s 15th Annual Safety Summit

What if 100 people died every day while flying? Most of us would probably stay off airplanes.

But would you sell your car if you found out that statistic actually applies to driving?

It seems the old adage, “Flying is safer than driving” is true.

In 2011, 213,000 people died in traffic accidents. Drivers who were using cellphones were involved in 25 percent of those accidents, according to David Teater, director of transportation initiatives for the National Safety Council.

Teater recently addressed a banquet hall full of workplace safety professionals in Austin during the Texas Department of Insurance’s 15th annual safety summit.

Safety summit is an opportunity for those charged with protecting workers from accidents to network and learn from industry experts. Here are a few highlights from the conference, in case you couldn’t be there.

Distracted driving

Presented by David Teater

Director of Transportation Initiatives for the National Safety CouncilSafeHandTexas logo

  • Reaching for a moving object and turning around in your seat are riskier than using a cellphone. But risk is only half the story. Frequency is what sets cellphones apart.
  • The human brain cannot multitask. It can only toggle between tasks.
  • Hands-free is as dangerous as hand-held.
  • The human cost of traffic accidents is the most compelling reason for employers to ban cellphone use while driving. Cellphone-related crashes can also expose employers to costly lawsuits.
  • Done right, a cellphone ban does not affect productivity.

Get more information

Cellphones, driver fatigue, speeding and failure to wear seat belts are primary causes of traffic accidents. Visit Texas Mutual’s SafeHandTexas.org for free safety training resources.

Return-to-work

Presented by Pat Crawford

TDI Return-to-Work Education Coordinator

  • Temporary injuries, such as strains and sprains, make up 87 percent of injuries in Texas.
  • An injured employee’s relationship with their immediate supervisor is the most important factor keeping them off work longer than they need to be.
  • If you have a problem employee, deal with them through your disciplinary system. Do not turn them over to the workers’ comp system.
  • Make sure the doctor understands the injured employee’s duties.
  •  Forget about “light duty.” Think about productive, meaningful work injured employees can do while they recover.

Get more information

A return-to-work program can improve your productivity and reduce your workers’ comp costs. To see how, visit our blog post titled, “RTW Works for the Bottom Line.” To learn how to launch a return-to-work program, revisit “Building a Highly Effective Return-to-Work Program.”

Emergency Evacuation Planning

Presented by Keith Jones

Director of Environment, Health and Safety for James Avery Craftsman

  • More than 40 percent of businesses affected by disasters never re-open. 
  • Actions taken in the initial minutes of an emergency are critical: warning systems to employees, calling emergency services, using trained First Aid and CPR responders, and ensuring employees with knowledge of specific equipment take action.
  • Plan for business continuity, as customers expect delivery of products or services timely.
  • Taking an “all hazards” approach addresses potential hazards, vulnerabilities and potential impacts.
  • Once everyone understands the plan and their roles, conduct regularly scheduled “dry runs.”

Get more information

Emergency evacuation should be part of a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan that includes
five core elements.

More to come

If your employees use hazardous chemicals on the job, you need to know your responsibilities under the new Globally Harmonized System (GHS). In next week’s @TexasMutual blog post, we will provide highlights from a safety summit presentation on the GHS conducted by Joann Natarajan of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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