Preparing for Workplace Emergencies
September is National Preparedness Month, which encourages individuals and businesses alike to prepare for emergency situations, disasters and health risks that could occur in their everyday environments. Emergencies and disasters can happen when they are least expected. Therefore, it is crucial for employees to be prepared for a variety of workplace emergencies (e.g., fires, chemical spills and natural disasters) to keep everyone safe.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employees like you should be aware of the following workplace emergency response information:
- Protocols for reporting fires and other workplace emergencies
- Evacuation procedures and escape route assignments
- Special procedures for shutting down critical operations (if applicable)
- Emergency rescue and medical duties (if applicable)
- Next steps after an evacuation
When developing emergency plans, OSHA recommends that employers appoint an emergency response coordinator. If you are given this role in the workplace, you may be tasked with the following duties:
- Determining potential emergencies and the necessary precautions for them
- Leading a range of emergency response activities
- Ensuring external services (e.g., the fire department or law enforcement) are properly notified when an emergency occurs
- Directing workplace shutdowns (if necessary)
Emergency response coordinators should also be trained on how to respond to different hazards. Training topics may include fire extinguisher operations, first aid, CPR, chemical spill protocols and search-and-rescue procedures.
Overall, all employees must be aware of the types of emergencies that could impact the workplace and know how to respond to these incidents safely. For more information on preparing for workplace emergencies, consult your supervisor.
Making Mental Health a Priority
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental health problems are among the largest overall health concerns in the United States, as an estimated 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness each year. Additionally, over half (56%) of employees reported that stress and anxiety have impacted their productivity in the workplace, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
With this information in mind, it’s clear that mental health is equally as important in the workplace as physical health. Fortunately, the CDC released steps employees like you can take to promote the significance of mental health and stress management. This guidance includes tips that include the following:
- Take part in company-sponsored events that teach participants techniques to improve their mental health.
- Seize opportunities to attend any company training sessions that focus on stress management, ways to deal with unacceptable behaviors in the workplace and best practices for supporting struggling co-workers.
- Consider sharing personal stories with co-workers to help eliminate any stigmas in the workplace.
- Be empathetic and supportive when a co-worker discusses their mental health or other personal experiences.
- Embrace behaviors that encourage stress management and promote supporting mental health, such as:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Getting plenty of sleep each night
- Taking mindfulness classes
- Practicing yoga or meditation
- Speaking up when you feel overwhelmed
If you have further questions regarding mental health and stress management in the workplace, consult your supervisor.
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