Introduction to Workplace Emergency Planning


It is every employee and employer’s responsibility to provide a safe place for all employees to work, including employees with disabilities. 

Planning for alternative communications and inclusive evacuation and recovery procedures becomes of key importance to employee safety in disaster situations from fires, floods, hazardous materials incidents, and earthquakes.  Knowledge, planning, and practice will protect workers with disabilities and save lives.


Examples of how some disabilities might affect emergency evacuation and planning:
• Workers with disabilities need to be able to clearly see, hear and understand all emergency evacuation plans and routes
• The deaf and hard of hearing may not be able to hear or react to emergency signals
• Visual disabilities may make workers unable to find escape routes and see hazardous objects
• Mobility-related disabilities may render the workers unable to leave the worksite in a short amount of time
• Respiratory disabilities will affect a person’s ability to walk long distances away from hazards at the workplace
• Speech disabilities will make it hard for workers to communicate during a emergency situation
• Cognitive disabilities and mental illnesses will affect a person’s ability to react and respond reasonably during an emergency


Determining staff/volunteer needs and personnel resources:

Responsibility of the employee:
• Every worker with disabilities needs to have a self assessment and what their needs might be during an emergency; they need to convey this information to their employers
• They are also responsible of any changes to their disability or any change in medical conditions so that their files are up to date
• The worker with the disability should be involved in who will help him and what kind of training they will require

Responsibility of the employer:
• The employer needs to determine different emergency notifications and evacuations to assist the employees with disabilities
• The employer should prepare a list of workers who will need assistance during a emergency
• The staff assisting other employees should be mentally and physically capable to do the task
• The assisting staff should not need any assistance themselves
• The assisting staff should work the same hours and in the same area as the employee that needs assistance

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