According to Police Advice, an average of 1,253 tornadoes occur every year in the United States, making it one of the countries with the highest number of tornadoes. This natural disaster affects households as well as the workplace, so keeping employees safe is a priority that arrives during tornado season.
This blog aims to serve as a guide for knowing which aspects of safety are essential to consider for keeping workers safe. This is a great tool for employers to know how to prepare, or if you are an employee to know which information to ask for in case of a tornado.
First thing is to have an emergency plan, employees must know the steps to follow in case of a natural disaster. An emergency plan usually considers:
- The goal (staying safe from tornados, protecting workers, preventing fatalities and injuries, reducing damage to buildings and equipment, and accelerating the resumption of normal operations).
- A vulnerability assessment and recall of workers´ experiences.
- Sequential events that may arrive due to the natural disaster.
- Damage of infrastructure.
- Protecting vital records/documents.
- Damage to equipment.
- Work disruption.
It´s a good idea to include the emergency plan in the workers handbook.
Protecting buildings is important, but employee safety is most important. Equipping the facility as well as the employees is crucial.
It's important that employers provide emergency kits, for the facility to follow safety standards, as well as having all workers´ contact information and emergency contact information. This should be periodically updated and accessible electronically. Phone numbers and email addresses should be included as well. This can also be considered for clients, insurance companies and local emergency response teams. But as an employee, the important thing to know is who to ask for help and how.
Drills must take place to ensure everyone understands the plan and is ready to take action. Therefore establishing policies and procedures are essential. Evacuation, lockdown situations, and first aid are some drill examples that shouldn't be missed. As a worker you can come up with ideas and as an employer you can listen and propose as well.
This can be included in the onboarding process of employees.
Stay alert, know the signs
If tornado season is on, don´t forget to keep track of news and weather evolution. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are reliable sources to consider.
All staff should know any of these signs that might indicate a tornado is coming:
- Wall cloud
- Cloud of debris
- Funnel cloud
- Roaring noise
- Heavy rain followed by dead calm
- Large hail
- Dark greenish colored sky.
Employees come first, but it's also a good idea to not forget about backing up all the important documents or having available safety kits. Another idea to consider is having a safety room construction if your facility allows it.
The assessment, procedures or any other ideas will depend on the employee and facility´s needs.
- Communication with employees is crucial
Last but not least, one of the most important yet forgotten steps to consider is communication. As a staff member you should be aware of what are the procedures to follow, who to ask for help, receive proper training, etc. As a manager you should be able to communicate all this information to them as well as answer any question that may arrive to ensure a workplace safety environment prevails.