How does your emergency preparedness reflect on your safety culture?

Crates on fire burning

By Brie DeLisi

At Propulo, we understand that emergency preparedness is one of the most important indicators of organizational safety culture maturity. Emergency preparedness includes several aspects including:
- Identification of risks (fire, medical, natural disasters, loss of power, security, etc.)
- Written plans to address those risks with actionable items
- Conducting drills of those plans and testing systems
- Applying continuous improvement to update and validate the plans when gaps are exposed

Why does this make such a big impact on safety culture?

Emergency preparedness it is the most basic implementation of a safety program. Without a strong understanding of potential catastrophes and how to react, there is an incredibly high likelihood of mass injury (or worse) and infrastructure loss.

We’ve seen organizations that have never conducted an evacuation drill or developed contingency plans for natural disasters. Drills and contingency plans are important for two main reasons; the first is that drills are vital to test assumptions of procedures and understanding. It is dangerous to assume that specific systems are in good working condition and that plans are concrete, only to discover flaws during an actual emergency event. The second reason drills are critical is to ensure that employees understand and practice what they should do. When an emergency occurs, our fight or flight response is triggered, and we cannot think rationally. The muscle memory and practice developed during a drill will support following an appropriate response when an emergency occurs.

If you are interested in improving your safety culture, take a look at your emergency preparedness program – it will be a great indicator of where you stand as an organization.