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Workplace Emergency Drills

  

• All workers with disabilities should participate in drills
• Some workers might not be able to participate in drills due to their disability but one-on-one training should be provided
• Workers with disabilities and the people assisting them should be comfortable with the drills and be trained on how to properly evacuate the building
• If the workers says he/she does not need assistance, but is harming other workers evacuation, they should be talked to directly and privately about the situation
• Work with the building security and include them in your drill; also train them on how to assist a worker with a disability
• Talk to other businesses in your building and area about their emergency procedures
• Talk to the local fire and ambulance to make them aware that there are workers with disabilities
• Talk to organizations who can provide specific information about disability emergency planning

Responding to an Emergency

  

Evacuations:

Responsibility of employee with a disability:
• They should be familiar with evacuation options and evacuation procedures
• They should know who will be assisting them during an emergency
• Participate in emergency drills and know of any new changes to emergency procedures
• Alert security when they are coming to work after hours and when they are working late
• Service animals should also partake in the drills so they are familiar with the emergency sounds and routes.

Responsibility of assisting staff/Employer:
• Need to provide everyone with the same level of safety
• Staff members who are assisting anyone with a disability should be trained on how to assist and communicate with the worker with the disability
• They need to inform first responders when they arrive about the number of persons with disabilities, and where they are located
• Service animals should be also be incorporated into the emergency planning
• The same emergency procedures should be in place during both working and non-working hours
• Make sure equipment isn’t blocking the evacuation path for other employees
• When employees are unable to evacuate, determine an area of safe refuge; these areas should only be used as a last resort; all safe refuge areas should also be accessible to people with disabilities
• DO NOT MAKE THE SAFE AREA ON THE LANDING OF STAIRS

Sheltering-in-place:

• When it is not safe to leave the workplace, have a place of shelter; this place should be accommodating to all persons with disabilities
• Communicate with employers on what you require for a safe shelter according to your disability
• Employees with disabilities should have their own preparedness kit such as medication, tire repair kit for their wheelchair, dietary needs, assistive equipment or devices.

Working with the first responders and community:

• Employer must understand that first responders aren’t generally trained in helping people with disabilities or trained in the use of evacuation equipment

Workplace Emergency Planning for Employers

  

Making the worksite safer for all employees:
• Employers need to walk through, with their employees who have disabilities, to understand their needs during an emergency
• Look for hazards in the work place that might injure any workers, such as boxes that are stacked too high or objects obstructing the walk way
• Having a designated person to check for hazards and how they will be addressed, and reporting hazards on a regular bases
• Always have a fully stocked emergency supplies

 

Having clear and understandable emergency communication:

• When making emergency plans, employers need to understand the needs of person’s with hearing and visual impairments, physical restrictions and mental disabilities
• They need to provide one-on–one training for people who need it, examples might be persons with hearing and visual impairments
• Install and provide different types of communication devices such as visual alarms for people with hearing disabilities
• Provide Braille signage and maps for persons with visual disabilities
• Provide picture books of emergency procedures for workers with cognitive disabilities

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