Without wanting to sound too cliched, there is a definite need at this time of year to ensure you are prepared for an emergency.

In auditing a range of industries across the state QRMC’s consultants commonly see that most organisations have their ducks all in row in relation to fire and evacuation. However, there are often gaps in terms of preparing for ‘non-traditional’ emergencies.

Sec 43 of the (Model) WHS Regulation prescribes a duty on the PCBU to implement and test their emergency plan, while in Queensland this requirement is strengthened in the Building Fire Safety Regulation (Sec 44) that mandates the need for training and an annual evacuation practice.

Naturally these dominate the thought processes when it comes to emergency preparedness and in many cases the key driver is compliance rather than really testing the efficacy of the system.

In addition for workplaces undertaking Confined Space entry or work at heights there is typically some practicing of the emergency rescue procedures (as per sec 74 & sec 80 respectively).

All this is absolutely necessary, but  if  we take a step backwards and consider the regularly referenced Australian Standard for Planning for Emergencies (AS 3745—2010) there is a requirement to identify, complete a risk assessment and analyse potential emergencies likely to impact the operations, then develop plans to prepare for and mitigate the impact of these emergencies.

AS3745 (s) 7.1  then specifies that “a program of site-specific emergency response exercises shall be developed … to determine the effectiveness of the emergency response procedures, ECO actions and occupants’ response”.

In operationalising these requirements many organisations have developed detailed instructions and ‘grab-and-go’ guides to structure their response to specific emergencies. However, while these may cater for localised events like medical emergencies, power outages, bomb threats, armed hold-ups or active shooters, or the broader range of natural events or disasters (severe storms, flooding and even cyclones in the more northerly reaches), the workplace’s response to these events is not usually practiced.

QRMC has no doubt that most workplaces know what to do when their fire alarms go off, but is there the same level of confidence in responding to other types of events that may not require an evacuation of the workplace?

Please contact QRMC for more information.