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News | Sept. 8, 2017

Planning is key to reacting to workplace emergencies

By Robert Cross, assistant chief of technical services DLA Installation Support at Richmond

September is National Preparedness Month and Defense Logistics Agency Installation Support at Richmond, Virginia’s Fire and Emergency Services personnel are getting the word out to employees to plan and prepare for disasters. Being prepared can prevent employees from incurring harm and assist in their ability to provide continued support for the mission and to the warfighter.

Disasters can build-up slowly or happen suddenly and it is sometimes difficult to determine how severe we expect the damage to be. For example in the case of a hurricane or tornado both could strike suddenly and the intensity could be more than expected.

There are a myriad of incidents employees should prepare for. Beginning with knowing your respective workplace’s plan-of-action when faced with a disaster-type of incident. Employees should have an all-encompassing checklist for every type of event. If faced with a hurricane, employees should know how the organization will broadcast messages or the plan for continuity of operations. Leadership should also clearly communicate procedures and identify mission or emergency essential employees who should report for work and where. In the event of a tornado, employees should know how to shelter-in-place and where the identified areas are located within the workspace.

Remember, having a plan is not just for major events. Employees should prepare for other types of emergencies such as gas leaks, fires, medical emergencies and hazardous materials type incidents, like spills or leaks. DSCR’s fire and emergency personnel urge employees to create a well-rounded plan capable of responding to any incident, regardless of size, breadth, or complexity.

Employees should also familiarize themselves with two important plans - their organization’s Occupant Emergency Plan (contact your safety officer to view your directorates plan) and the Emergency Evacuation Plan diagram that is posted in or near building entrances.

The Installation Emergency Manager William Bullock, DLA Installation Support at Richmond, manages the Occupant Emergency Plan Program that each organization, directorate and office should fills out. The plan identifies the procedures and emergency contacts, what to do, where to go, who may need assistance in getting out of the building, who sends out notifications and how notifications take place, along with other important emergency information such as who the safety monitor or fire warden is in your work area.

The Emergency Evacuation Plan is just as important. This plan (located at building or work area entrances) allows all persons, whether they work in the building or are just there on business, the ability to visually see where they are located, the evacuation routes and the muster point or place where they need to evacuate to.
Having these plans are great but if they are not communicated, practiced, and evaluated for compliance, knowledge and improvement, then employees will not be advocating the standards DLA has set as they pertain to the Voluntary Protection Program that will provide the safest environment possible for employees in the workplace.

Above all else, safety should be first in everyone’s mind. Have plans filled out and posted in the appropriate areas, know who the fire warden and safety monitor is for your area, know the location of the organization’s muster point, update AdHoc and Fourth Estate Personnel Accountability and Assessment System information. If employees see something that does not look safe - report it and communicate findings with others in your workspace as well as those visiting the workspace. Finally above all, if employees have a question about safety, ask.
DLA Installation Support at Richmond’s Fire and Emergency Services is here to assist in maintaining a safe work environment for employees and anyone visiting or conducting business in the workspace. For questions or assistance, please contact the Fire Prevention Office at (804) 279-6782 or email us at