September 8, 2017

Most business owners are well aware of the legal requirements to document emergency procedures in the workplace. From general emergency instructions to what to do in the event of a fire, fall, poisoning or electrocution, everyone who works in an organisation must know how to act if the unthinkable should happen.

But can you really prepare staff for an emergency by asking them to read a document? Or, do they need proper first-hand experience in order to be truly equipped?

Knowing that this problem exists in many organisations, government departments and industry regulators have been cracking down on businesses that create, but do not test, emergency procedures.

The following documents refer specifically to the need to appropriately test emergency procedures in the workplace:

  • Work Health Safety Regulations 2011
  • First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice
  • Construction Work Code of Practice

Many other industry codes of practice include the same references, as does the Federal Safety Commission (FSC) audit requirements for accreditation. Any business wishing to work on federally-funded construction projects must pass a strong set of criteria in order to obtain and retain FSC accreditation – including carrying out official staff testing of emergency procedures.

Proper emergency preparedness goes far beyond a routine fire drill; particularly in workplaces where there is a higher risk of serious injury. In the event of an emergency, all staff should be prepared to act quickly and calmly, and help to minimise risk and injury to themselves and others where possible.

As Workplace Health and Safety experts, we have seen the effects that a lack of emergency preparedness can have in a workplace. From the person who sustained the injury, to the traumatised staff, and the business owner who is officially investigated – no one comes out unaffected. From a legal standpoint, we have also investigated businesses that have had a serious incident. Those who had not tested their emergency procedures have a much higher chance of being dubbed “negligent”.

How to test emergency preparedness

The best way to test a company’s emergency procedures is to have an independent company do an Emergency Preparedness Test when workers are completely unsuspecting.

WHSE Consulting provides custom Emergency Preparedness Testing to assess staff on their knowledge and ability to follow process in the event of an emergency in their workplace.

We do this by:

  • Consulting with you on the desired scenario
  • Understanding your internal procedures for dealing with that scenario
  • Undertaking a realistic on-site exercise with unsuspecting staff
  • Testing staff responses (short of calling 000)
  • Guiding them through the correct way to respond (in line with your procedures)
  • Providing a final report on how staff responded, with recommendations for improvement

Unfortunately, many staff struggle to cope during the exercise, and while it’s one thing to be embarrassed in a controlled environment, it’s quite another in a public forum where they (and you) might be judged by lawyers and insurance representatives.

Even if you are a business owner with sub-contractors, as the workplace or site manager you will be the one held accountable in the event of an incident.

We offer three levels of Emergency Preparedness Testing to help you assess worker knowledge, demonstrate compliance as having “tested emergency procedures”, and provide valuable documented evidence if a real event/investigation were to happen in the future.

These include:

  1. On site workplace-specific theoretical training
  2. On site Emergency Preparedness Testing
  3. On site Emergency Preparedness Testing combined with audit-response testing (i.e.: if you were to get audited as a result of the incident, how would you fair?)

For more information on emergency preparedness testing, or to book a test for your business, please call Steven on 0438 932 115 or contact WHSE Consulting.