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Workplace Emergency Response Training
A workplace emergency can occur at any time. Can your team take steps to ensure theirs and others’ safety? Learn practical insights on how to implement workplace emergency response training here to gain peace of mind knowing your staff is prepared to handle emergencies in your workplace.

What Is Workplace Emergency Response Training?

Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a workplace emergency can be defined as “... a situation that threatens workers, customers, or the public; disrupts or shuts down operations; or causes physical or environmental damage.” Workplace emergency response training is a set of preparedness measures designed to help employees respond effectively and safely to such events or disasters. It includes learning about different types of emergencies such as fires, chemical spills, natural disasters and active shooter situations, as well as understanding how to evacuate the building, administer first aid, and communicate with emergency services. The frequency of this training depends on the type of industry and level of risk associated with the workplace. For instance, workplaces that deal with hazardous materials should conduct emergency response training more frequently, while low-risk offices may only need to conduct them once a year.

Why Is Workplace Emergency Response Training Important?

Emergency workplace training is essential for ensuring that employees are well-prepared and capable of responding to unexpected events or disasters that may occur at work. This type of training provides employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to react to emergencies in a safe and effective manner. This is essential for protecting themselves, their colleagues and organizational assets. Moreover, emergency workplace training is often required by law in many industries and jurisdictions to ensure compliance with safety regulations and standards. By conducting emergency workplace training, organizations can reduce the impact of an emergency, potentially preventing property damage, minimizing downtime and reducing the risk of legal liability. Finally, providing employees with emergency workplace training can boost morale and demonstrate an organization's commitment to employee safety, which can help attract and retain top talent.
  • Protecting employee safety. Emergency workplace training provides employees with the skills and knowledge necessary to protect themselves and others in the event of an emergency. This preparedness can be the difference between life or death in an emergency situation.
  • Reducing property damage. Effective emergency response can minimize the impact of an emergency, reducing property damage and downtime for the organization.
  • Ensuring legal compliance. Many industries and jurisdictions require organizations to conduct emergency workplace training to ensure compliance with OSHA safety regulations and standards. Per OSHA, “Some key OSHA requirements for emergencies can be found in the following sections of standards for general industry (29 CFR 1910), construction (29 CFR 1926), and maritime (29 CFR 1915, 1917, and 1918). The table may not list all standards that apply to all situations.”

What Will Employees Learn From Workplace Emergency Response Training?

Employees may learn a range of skills and knowledge from workplace emergency response training depending on the specific training program and the type of emergencies that are relevant to the workplace. OSHA says that effective training teaches participants:
  1. How to identify the safety and health hazards at their workplace;
  2. How to analyze the causes of these hazards;
  3. How to bring about safer, healthier workplaces; and
  4. How to involve their co-workers in accomplishing all of the above.
Key topics that may be covered in emergency response training include:

Identification of Potential Workplace Hazards and Risks

This refers to the process of recognizing potential hazards or risks that could cause harm or injury to employees, customers or visitors in the workplace. These can include slippery floors, malfunctioning equipment or toxic chemicals.

Procedures for Reporting Emergencies and Communicating With Emergency Services

As each form of emergency is unique, the steps employees should take to report an emergency and communicate with emergency services differ as well. Some instances require calling 911 whereas others may necessitate activating an emergency alarm. An effective training should define what actions are appropriate in each scenario.

Evacuation Routes and Procedures and How to Assist Others During an Evacuation

This involves knowing the designated evacuation routes, exit doors and emergency exits in the workplace, as well as the procedures to follow during an evacuation. Employees should also know how to assist others who may need help evacuating the premises, such as individuals with disabilities. An example of this would be conducting a practice drill of an evacuation scenario with all employees.

Proper Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

This involves knowing how to properly use and maintain PPE to protect oneself from potential hazards or exposure to hazardous materials. Examples of PPE include gloves, respirators, safety glasses or hard hats. This training might be demonstrating how to properly wear and use respirators when working with chemicals, or teaching on the proper use and disposal of gloves to prevent contamination.

Safe Handling of Hazardous Materials and Chemicals

This involves knowing how to handle hazardous materials and chemicals safely to minimize the risk of injury or exposure. Examples of hazardous materials include cleaning chemicals, solvents or industrial chemicals. Example training would be providing employees with PPE such as gloves or goggles when handling chemicals.

Basic First Aid and CPR Techniques

This involves learning basic first aid skills such as how to control bleeding or perform CPR to provide immediate assistance to someone who is injured or experiencing a medical emergency. An organization could provide CPR training to employees and have a well-stocked first aid kit in the workplace.

Techniques for Responding to Fires, Floods, Chemical Spills, Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies

For example, employees should know how to shut off utilities such as gas, water or electricity in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake.

The Organization's Emergency Response Plan and Roles and Responsibilities for Staff Members

This involves understanding the organization's emergency response plan as well as the specific roles and responsibilities for staff members during an emergency. Specific staff members could be designated to assist with evacuating employees or to provide medical assistance during an emergency.

How to Successfully Run a Workplace Emergency Response Training

Proper training and preparation for workplace emergencies can mean the difference between life and death. Whether it's a fire, natural disaster or an active shooter situation, it's important for employers to have a comprehensive emergency response plan. The following steps provide a framework for executing a successful workplace emergency response training program to keep employees safe and protect the workplace in the event of an emergency.

Step 1: Develop an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) That Outlines Emergency Response Procedures

The EAP should identify emergency escape routes, meeting locations and procedures for accounting for employees after an evacuation. It should also include procedures for reporting emergencies and assigning responsibilities to employees who will coordinate the response. Click here for more detailed information on how to write a comprehensive EAP.

Step 2: Use a Variety of Training Methods to Ensure Employees Understand the EAP

Using a variety of training methods such as classroom instruction, hands-on training, tabletop exercises and drills is important to ensure that employees fully understand the procedures outlined in the EAP. Employees have different learning styles and preferences, and some may be better suited to learning through hands-on experience or visual aids rather than classroom instruction. By providing a range of training methods, employers can help ensure that all employees are able to understand and retain the information presented in the EAP. Classroom instruction can provide a solid foundation of knowledge, but hands-on training and drills provide opportunities for employees to put that knowledge into practice and gain practical experience responding to emergencies. Tabletop exercises and drills are especially effective in helping employees understand how to respond to emergencies in a simulated environment. These exercises help employees understand the sequence of events that occur during an emergency, practice communication and decision-making skills, and identify areas where improvements can be made.

Step 3: Tailor the Training to the Specific Needs of the Workplace

When planning your training session, keep in mind the size and layout of your location as well as the number of employees. Doing so will help you cater your training to the specific needs of your specific workplace.

Step 4: Provide Refresher Training Regularly

OSHA recommends that employers provide emergency response training at least annually, and more frequently for high-risk workplaces.

Examples of Workplace Emergency Response Training

Here we will explore three examples of workplace emergency response training, including fire safety training, active shooter response training and first aid/CPR training. By understanding the importance of these types of training, employers can create a safer and more secure work environment for employees.

Fire Safety Training

Fire safety training is one of the most common types of workplace emergency response training. During this training, employees learn how to prevent fires and how to respond if a fire breaks out. Topics include identifying fire hazards, proper use of fire extinguishers, evacuation procedures and how to use emergency exits. Fire safety training can help employees become more prepared and confident in the event of a fire and can ultimately help prevent injuries and save lives.

Active Shooter Response Training

With the increasing frequency of active shooter incidents in the workplace, many employers are providing active shooter response training to employees. This training teaches employees how to recognize the signs of an active shooter, how to respond to an active shooter situation and how to protect themselves and others. Topics include how to run, hide or fight during an active shooter situation, how to provide first aid to wounded individuals and how to communicate with law enforcement.

First Aid/CPR Training

First aid and CPR training is another important type of workplace emergency response training. During this training, employees learn how to provide basic first aid and CPR in the event of an emergency. Topics include how to respond to a medical emergency, how to perform basic first aid, how to recognize the signs of a heart attack or stroke and how to administer CPR.
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Kayla Farber

Kayla Farber

Kayla is the Chief Innovation Officer at Hero Culture, where the passion is to create company cultures of retention using the power of personality.
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Frequently asked questions
Other Related Terms
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Crisis Management
Earthquakes
Emergency Preparedness in the Workplace
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