Emergency Response Protocol for Manufacturers in British Columbia

Communication, collaboration, and cooperation are essential to the health and safety of our workforce. In this article, we review the necessary practices for ensuring employee protection, and examine the importance of emergency protocol awareness.

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In 2021, British Columbia faced a multitude of environmental challenges that have seriously tested the resilience of the province’s population. Disasters like these are usually unexpected, and, if they aren’t appropriately prepared for, can have dire consequences. As manufacturing employers, we have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our workforce under any circumstances, and must take the appropriate steps to properly safeguard against emergencies of any kind. The start of a new year makes an excellent time to review our existing emergency response structures, and to modernize our awareness of the resources available to us. By doing so, we remain secure in our employee protection practices, and can better focus our efforts on productivity.

First, consider the health and safety training that your workforce currently receives, and ensure that basic emergency response guidelines are being met. In the case of an emergency, would your employees be able to quickly and easily evacuate your facilities without being exposed to dangerous equipment or substances? Have your employees been trained on how to correctly exit your facilities under time-sensitive circumstances? Be sure that in-depth training sessions, drills, and education materials are delivered to your workforce on a regular basis. Also keep in mind the importance of accountability during a crisis — designate emergency leaders, provide key team members with pertinent roles and responsibilities, and have a plan for keeping track of employees during an evacuation. Make this information — and any updates to it — accessible to all of your workers in a clear and accurate a manner and incorporate it into every part of your work environment for immediate reference.

Next, perform frequent assessments of risk in your workplace, and define concrete actions for preventing and addressing danger. Companies that deal with hazardous substances, for example, must keep up-to-date records of their inventory, and provide documentation of these materials to the relevant safety organizations. It’s always a good idea to establish and uphold strong relationships with workplace protection entities like WorkSafeBC — these bodies are dedicated to the health and wellness of your employee base, and can provide you with invaluable training materials, further resources and connections, and immediate support during a crisis. To keep track of your risk mitigation strategies and partnerships, create a thorough Emergency Plan alongside a trusted health and safety representative, and distribute it to workers across every department. By making sure that all workers understand the steps that have been taken to prevent risk, the steps being taken to maintain their safety, and the steps that will be taken in the event of a crisis, employers gain the trust and reliance of their labour base, further strengthening employee morale and engagement.

Implementing effective emergency response protocol into our businesses can often mean the difference between success and catastrophe. When it comes to health and safety in the workplace, employee knowledge and awareness, empowered by the preparation and guidance of leadership, matters above all else. As British Columbia’s manufacturers move forward into 2022, the value of their mutual support throughout past emergencies becomes increasingly apparent, and further ensures the collective protection of the province’s workforce.

For more information please contact David Munro, MCM for Western Canada.

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