Preparing New Hires for Emergencies
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Why Is Preparing New Hires for Emergencies Important?
According to OSHA, “Proper planning before an emergency is necessary to respond effectively.” With that in mind, let’s walk through a few reasons why preparing your new hires for emergencies right away is important.
- Safety. If your organization prioritizes safety (they should), preparing your new hires for emergencies from day one should be a priority. Ensuring they are adequately informed on safety measures in your organization to protect them from harm is extremely important.
- Inclusion. Your onboarding process for new hires may already be top notch, but adding emergency preparedness could be the additional level you were looking for. Preparing your new hires for emergencies includes them as a member of your team right away.
- Reduce fear. Most people have a very real fear of disasters, especially if they have already experienced them. Taking the time to recognize this fear, go over company emergency preparedness and adequately prep your new hires. This can help alleviate that fear immediately and make them feel comfortable in their new working environment.
Examples of Emergencies New Hires Should Be Prepared For
While this isn’t a comprehensive list of every workplace emergency, here are the common emergencies any new hire should be prepared to handle.
A fire can happen in any workplace. Over 100,000 fires occur annually, so even your organization can have a fire in the server room or the break room! Keeping your electrical equipment up to date and avoiding clutter in areas with combustible equipment can help prevent fires. Being prepared for a fire should be first on the list of common emergencies!
Medical emergencies in the workplace are common. Add this to your list of emergency preparation and make sure your new hires know the numbers for local authorities if 911 isn’t needed and the location of all first aid kits.
Mother Nature has a mind of her own and it’s your job as an employer to prepare your new hires to handle severe weather strikes. Take the time early on to review the protocol for what to do if there is a flood or where to go when a tornado hits. You cannot prevent or even predict the weather, but you can ensure you’ve done all you can to be prepared for it!
An office power failure may sound like a dream come true to some, but it can actually be a common emergency your new hires should be prepared for. You can review where emergency lights will be and the location to meet until the power is restored. Power failures could be a company outage or a local outage, but either way, the dark can be scary so take the time to prepare new hires right away!
Even if you don’t use chemicals in your organization, exposure can come from lead, asbestos and mercury. You may think it wouldn’t happen, but it can! While asbestos use has declined, according to the WHO, more than 2 million metric tons per year are still used. Be sure you’re equipping your team, new hires included, for these emergencies.
How to Prepare New Hires for Emergencies
OSHA has specifics that your emergency action plan (EAP) should follow. Let’s look at a few tangible ways to prepare new hires for emergencies outside of having an effective plan in place:
Step 1: Train
As you’re onboarding your new hires, make sure a part of training is preparing them for emergencies. Make sure they know things like where and how to sound alarms, how to distinguish the meanings of the alarms, evacuation routes, fire extinguisher locations, emergency numbers and company protocol (more EAP specific). Give them an early overview of the process so that no matter what happens during onboarding, they don’t have to wait to feel safe.
Step 2: EAP Review
Since your EAP includes all the necessary information for current employees, going over this with your new hires is a great way to prepare them for emergencies. Your EAP should have all the company specific information for how to report emergencies, evacuation policies and procedures, emergency escape procedures and routes, a name roster with responsibilities under your EAP, shutdown procedures and medical duties for any workers. All of these are quintessential items for every employee to know.
Step 3: Retrain
Often, onboarding can feel like drinking from a fire hose because you’re learning so much information all at once. How can you expect your employees to retain all of it? Retraining! Allow your employees the grace this pain point deserves, but don’t skip it because you’re worried they won’t retain the information. Instead, allow some time to pass and retrain. Safety training at your organization should be quarterly, if not more, to ensure all employees are continually aware of updated EAPs or safety protocols.
Step 4: Stage a Mock Disaster
Sometimes experience is key to handling situations effectively. Stage a disaster and see how your team responds. You’ve given them all the tools, trained them during onboarding, reviewed the emergency action plan, and retrained them to really drive the points home. Now it’s time to put that to good use and test them! Be sure the mock disaster is administered safely to avoid injuries. See how your employees perform the procedures that have been taught and evaluate their performance when it’s over. Encourage involvement from all employees and continue to prepare them effectively for all emergencies.
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Shalie has over 4 years of experience working in a variety of HR positions and organizations including: working as an HR department “of one”, working with a start-up based in Europe, to working in a fully established robust USA based HR department. Shalie has experience in multiple states and countries with all aspects of the HR spectrum. She has a passion to share her knowledge and experience to benefit the HR profession!
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