Survey: 43% say their workplace is unprepared for non-fire emergencies
- Employers are failing to plan and communicate to workers critical safety emergency protocols, according to a new survey of 537 respondents from Rave Mobile Safety. The software firm found that while 87% of employees know of their workplace's fire safety policy and undergo fire drills, only 57% say the workplace has preparedness drills in place for other incidents, including cyber breaches, shootings and hazardous waste disposal.
- The survey also revealed discrepancies between younger and older workers' perception of their employers' safety preparedness. For example, 53% of millennials said their workplace had no emergency plan or that they weren't aware of it, compared with only 34% of respondents age 45 and older who agreed.
- Nearly half of respondents age 45 and older said they would report a situation in which a coworker's safety or their own was in question, while only 8% of millennials said they would do the same. Most workers are notified of emergencies in-office via intercoms, the survey revealed, but most prefer a text when working remote.
Fire drills have been mandatory practices in workplaces for decades. That explains why older workers are aware of them, but it doesn't explain why many younger workers aren't. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends fire dills but doesn't require them. Employers must be sensible about keeping the workplace safe and plan safety and evacuations procedures without federal, state or local ordinances.
The 21st century workplace has been the scene of shootings, foreign and domestic terrorist attacks, cyber breaches, and natural and man-made disasters. New safety concerns crop up all the time, challenging employers' ability to find ways to protect workers, notify them of dangers and evacuate them when necessary.
And the waste industry is not immune. A recent report showed there were nearly 300 reported facility fires in North America in 2017 alone, and a man was arrested in Phoenix last July over threats of a mass shooting at a Waste Management facility. Just as it's important for drivers to be safe on the road, it's important for facilities to plan for disaster and have guidelines in place to protect workers.
A remote and mobile workforce makes the challenge even greater. But employers need to plan for disasters by training employees, demonstrating preventive and evacuation procedures, and connecting with local emergency service providers and other first responders. OSHA, which maintains emergency and evacuation plans and procedures on its website, is a good place to start.