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Table of Contents
Assessments for Disaster
Notification and Evacuation
Information Systems and Data Backup
Workers with Disabilities
Pandemic Flu (2009 update)
Hazard Evaluation and Assessment
Sample Safety Forms
Cooperative Production Support Services Agreement
Disasters can take many forms in today’s business. The trick is to be ready to respond efficiently, effectively, and immediately to minimize the risk of injury and loss of life and property. Given the events of September 11, 2001, it is fair to say that businesses may not think of all the disaster possibilities. Less than one percent of those who read this document will ever experience such events in their businesses. However, a company that is ready for other potential disasters (fire, weather, hazardous material releases, utility outages, violence in the workplace, etc.) will certainly have an upper hand in responding to any type of disaster -- particularly if they periodically update their plans and conduct semi-annual drills.
The following is a basic checklist graphic arts firms may use to develop their own Disaster Planning, Management, and Recovery checklist.
Employers should work with employees on identifying potential hazards and disaster situations and develop procedures and training to respond.
Being prepared often means being able to respond to the unexpected. Particularly disasters you may not have even considered. However, if your company is prepared for the most common types of disasters, then it will generally overall prepared to handle most anything. The typical disasters a company may plan for include the following:
- Toxic gas releases
- Chemical spills
- Radiological accidents
- Civil disturbances
- Workplace violence
- Pandemic Flu
- Terrorist Attack
- Utility Disruption
The best way to prepare for these and other potential disasters is to ask yourself "how would the company respond if this happened?" Keep in mind that some incidents may be very small, but also that one disaster will probably cause more as a direct result. Thus, the company needs to ensure that it has backup plans for more than one scenario. This is very important. Plus, disasters that occur outside of your business may have a deep impact, even if they do not affect your facility directly (i.e., civil disturbances). Thus, contingency plans need to be considered even if you continue to have the ability to receive orders, produce product, and deliver. Business orders may not be able to come in because of outside factors, or due to economic downturn.
What is a "disaster" and when does should the disaster plan be activated? That is dependent on what your company considers a disaster. The company should have basic guidelines in place on when the disaster plan should be implemented.
As part of the development of a disaster plan, a full insurance audit with all your carriers and an insurance broker is advised for adequate coverage.
Establish a Planning Team
Top management should appoint a team responsible for the creating, periodic evaluation, and maintenance of a disaster response and recovery plan. Ideally, the team should be made up of functional areas of all parts of the company and should have the authority and resources to develop and implement the plan. This team could include or have input from the Employee Safety Committee.
The Disaster Planning Team should assess the company's capabilities and the likely hazards facing it. Input from experts and local authorities should be considered to identify potential hazards. This should include both from within the company and in the community and weather-related incidents. Review any company policies and plans currently in place for update as necessary for the most likely scenarios, keeping in mind that one event might cause another (e.g., weather event causes utility disruption). Determine what products, services, operations, etc., are vital and determine backups for each. For disasters that affect a wide-area, this may include having relationship with a similar firm in another city or state to perform work while your company's production capability gets back online. This can be critical to ensure customer contractual obligations are met. Equipment and service vendors should also be consulted during the analysis to ensure the full impact is determined and planned for.
Keys to Disaster/Recovery Plan
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), suggests a company plan should include the following element:
- Direction and control;
- Life safety;
- Property protection;
- Community outreach;
- Recovery and restoration; and
- Administration and logistics.
Communication should include contact with employees and their families during and after a disaster, plus communication with customers.
Recovery Concerns for Your Workforce
Some or all employee may not return to work immediately after a disaster (e.g., Hurricane Katrina). Keep in mind that protected leave and employer notification requirements probably still exist, depending on the size of your company. For example: workers compensation coverage might be applicable if workers are injured on the job during the disaster; if layoffs occur unemployment compensation claims would occur and COBRA coverage would be required to be extended to qualified employees; depending on possible resulting injuries (on or off the job) Americans with Disabilities Act and Family and Medical Leave Act coverage might be covered; and payroll concerns (final pay, pay of accrued, unused vacation, etc.) should all be reviewed in a disaster plan, if applicable. If a layoff occurs, federal and state layoff requirements probably won't be covered (Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act -- WARN) because exceptions exist for unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters. However, some "unnatural" disasters may qualify under the "unforeseeable business circumstance" exception to WARN. See http://www.dol.gov/dol/compliance/comp-warn.htm for more information.
If possible, relocation (permanent or temporary) of some or all operations should be considered as part of the disaster plan.
If a company decided to provide disaster relief (compensation) to employees who are affected directly (e.g., home destroyed), the compensation could be non-taxable (federally) to the employee is the event is a "qualified disaster" which is defined as includes:
- A disaster that results from a terrorist action or military action;
- A Presidentially declared disaster;
- A disaster resulting from any event the Secretary of the Treasury determines to be of a catastrophic nature; or
- A disaster that is determined by a federal, state, or local authority to warrant assistance from the federal, state, or local government
The amounts paid can be used to indemnify all disaster-related losses or to reimburse the cost of nonessential, luxury, or decorative items and services. For more information see the IRS website regarding the specifics of Tax-Free Disaster Relief Payments at http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=104695,00.html.
It is important to have emergency plans for all types of crises. Note this is a guide, it is imperative that you talk with local officials and insurance plans to tailor the plans to your specific needs.
Public Address systems work great, but if your company does not have a Public Address system then develop a phone protocol or other methods to notify the workplace of an emergency. A backup plan should also be in place.
When delivering a Public Address notice:
- Be clear and concise as to the emergency: "Attention, Attention, this is a severe weather/fire/hazmat emergency. Please report to your designated shelter area."
This will eliminate any confusion over what the emergency is and what to do.
Depending on the disaster, evacuation may not be the first course of action (i.e., tornado, civil disturbances, or violence in the workplace). The company’s emergency notification announcement should not only include an indication of what type of disaster is at hand, but direction as to what "plans" to implement as well.
The following guidelines should be included in an evacuation plan.
- Create an evacuation policy and procedure. Include emergency escape procedures and route assignments (with alternatives) with floor plans, exits, safe areas and meeting areas. Floor plans with exit routes should be posted throughout the facility.
- Conditions under which an evacuation would be necessary should be outlined.
- Designated assembly locations should be determined. Keep in mind that you may have more than one designated area depending on the emergency/disaster.
- A procedure to account for all employees (and guests) should be in place after an evacuation.
- The disaster coordinator (and backup) should have the authority to order an evacuation or shutdown.
- The disaster coordinator should have a copy of the emergency plan with them at the evacuation area that includes all names, titles, departments, telephone numbers of individuals both within the facility and outside (consider notifying parent-sister organizations), and an explanation of employees’ duties and responsibilities under the emergency plan. The coordinator should be responsible for the oversight of the Disaster Plan.
- Have all emergency numbers placed by every phone in the building including the contact person for on site emergencies.
- Specific procedures listed by employee and by equipment, should be outlined for performing critical plan shut down operations, operate fire extinguishers, or other essential duties for every emergency before evacuation. (Sometimes if machinery is left on or running, it will create a greater hazard for fire/rescue workers when combined with the emergency itself.) The Fire Department may request that you shut off water, gas and/or electricity to the building. Individuals should be trained as to the location and procedure for proper shutoff.
- Contacting police/fire departments should be part of the evacuation procedure. They should be notified and invited to take part in company drills as well.
- Rescue and medical duties, if appropriate for your company, should be designated to employees trained in response techniques.
- Establish procedures to assist people with disabilities or who do not speak English.
- Establish procedures for further evacuation in case the incident expands. This may include initially sending employees to a pre-determined location and then home.
- As part of your Disaster plan, a current copy of employees’ contact information should be maintained. This may include the following:
- Home address and phone
- Next of kin, work address and phone
- Any medical information that the employee wants you to know beforehand (this should be strictly voluntary).
- Disaster plan training should be part of all new employee orientations.
Employers may need to consider special evacuation procedures for employees and guests with disabilities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the National Fire Protection Association both offer useful guidance on the subject.
Earthquake Procedures (reprinted with permission from Akridge.com)
- Don't Panic. Duck, Cover and Hold. Do not run.
- When the shaking stops – assess whether it would be safer to evacuate the building or shelter in place.
The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related injuries result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.
WHAT TO DO DURING AN EARTHQUAKE
- DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ONuntil the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building. Advise others to do the same.
- Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture. If you are in a common corridor or elevator lobby in which furniture is minimal, lie face down alongside an interior partition.
- Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is determined to be safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
- Do not be distressed if the electricity goes out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms turn on. They will likely be activated by a large tremor.
- DO NOT use the elevators until the building staff has confirmed their safety. The power may fail during or after the earthquake, trapping you in the elevator cab.
- Stay there if it is safe to do so.
- If necessary, move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
- Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops.
If in a moving vehicle…
- Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires (assume they are hot/live and stay in your car).
- Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake. Assess the situation before exiting the vehicle.
- If possible, provide assistance to other motorists.
WHAT TO DO AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE
Be prepared for potential additional tremors and aftershocks. Aftershocks are common after an earthquake. After the first motion is felt, there may be a temporary decrease in motion followed by another shock. Aftershocks can occur several minutes hours or days after an initial shock.
- …and you decide to shelter in place –
- Evacuation after an earthquake should never be automatic. There may be more danger outside the building than there is inside. Sheltering in Place during and immediately following the earthquake is most likely the best option.
- Do not light matches, use any open flames, or turn on electrical switches or appliances – there may be gas leaks in the building after an earthquake, and doing so could create an ignition source resulting in an explosion.
- Never touch power lines or anything resembling electrical wiring, or any objects that may be in contact with electrical wires.
- Only use the telephone to call Emergency Services for help. Tying up telephone lines may delay emergency response personnel.
- Watch out for fires and fire hazards. If it is safe to do so, put out any fires discovered using the nearest fire extinguisher. If any fires cannot be extinguished, pull a fire alarm, contact Building Management and/or call 911.
- …and you decide to evacuate –
- Evacuation after an earthquake should never be automatic. There may be more danger outside the building than there is inside. Sheltering in Place during and immediately following the earthquake is most likely the best option.
- If you decide to evacuate the building, take care to avoid hazards inside and outside the building such as broken glass, gas leakage, chemical spillage, unsafe structures, falling debris, trip hazards, downed power lines, etc.
- Report to your company’s designated Evacuation Assembly location if it is free of the aforementioned hazards
- Make sure coworkers are safe and accounted for
- Assist people to safety
- Administer first aid as needed.
- Building management will seek to determine if the building must be evacuated. Building management will consider the following:
- Information and instructions provided by the local authorities
- Outside conditions
- Conditions of the building
- Availability of a safe evacuation path
- Availability of safe assembly areas out of doors
- Likelihood of further damage or threats due to the condition of building utilities (i.e. gas leaks, etc.)
If in an elevator…
- …and there is power –
- Assess the situation to determine if you should evacuate or shelter-in-place. Notify an employee or colleague of your whereabouts, and use the elevator call button/phone.
- …and if there is no power –
- Remain in the elevator. Do not attempt to open the doors.
- Utilize the stop alarm button, and press the emergency elevator phone/button, and let the contact know who to call and inform of your whereabouts.
If trapped under debris…
- Do not move about or kick up dust.
- Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
- Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
BUILDING MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES
- Building management will gather information from authorities on an ongoing basis and follow their instructions.
- If it is safe to do so, Building management will conduct a thorough inspection of the building after an earthquake for the following conditions:
- Structural damage to the building and damages to major pieces of equipment
- Leaking or damaged water, gas, and electrical lines.
- Downed power lines
- Electrical wiring which is shorting out
- Report any utility damage to the utility companies and follow their instructions.
- Prepare for remedial measures by contacting the necessary contractors as soon as possible.
- Communicate with Clients using one or more of the following methods:
- Personal visit
- Mass Notification System
- Public Announcement System
Make certain that the Fire Department has a current list of all hazardous materials in your place of business. When the Fire Department does not have that list, it will take much more time to get fires and spills under control, increasing the risk of property damage and employee injury.
According to OSHA if your company has at least one hazardous chemical on site and your company has at least one employee, you are required by law to have a "Written Hazard Communication Program." If you do not currently have a HazCom Program then you should contact GATF for guidance on creating one. Phone the Bookstore at 1-800-662-3916 or check out the Online Store.
If your building contains hazardous materials OSHA suggests that you have the following information easily visible:
- Chemical Name
- Common or Trade Name
- Manufacturer’s Name
- Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) Number
- Or the term used for the material in your place of business
Make sure you take note of where all hazardous materials are kept.
|Note toners, cleaning supplies, etc.|
|Storage Areas||Check to be sure that materials are stored in compliance with the law.|
|Lobbies or Service Areas||Try to minimize or eliminate storing HazMats there.|
|Production Areas||Check to be sure that materials are stored in compliance with the law.|
|Labels||Be sure all containers are properly labeled|
It is very important that your Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) books are readily available throughout your building so every employee can appropriately respond to spills or accidents. For example, some hazardous material fires will only explode further when water is thrown on them. This is another reason why it is extremely important to give your local fire department a list of all hazardous materials in your building.
Procedures during a hazardous materials release:
- Only properly trained and designated personnel may respond to releases. All others must evacuate the area.
- Immediately call your supervisor and the Emergency Coordinator. Identify the chemical released.
- Wear proper personal protective equipment. Ensure proper equipment is worn for the specific chemical release in question. Ensure proper fit before going into the area. Obtain management approval before entering the area.
- Stop the release. As directed by management and without endangering yourself or others, attempt to stop the release and/or prevent the spill/release from traveling to different areas.
- Block the drains. Block drains with approved absorption materials and clear aisles of other materials so others many work in the area.
- Call for help if the release is very large. The Emergency Coordinator will notify the Fire Department’s HAZMAT team by dialing 911.
- Spill cleanup. Once the release/spill have been contained, collected and put in drums, the drums must be labeled. Only a licensed hazardous waster transporter may remove the material.
Checklist: Hazard communication
Material Data Safety Sheets are a vital part of any hazard communication program--but they're not the only part. MSDSs are useless if employees don't understand what they're working with, how to read an MSDS and what protective measures to take to prevent exposure to hazardous substances.
This checklist, from the OSHA Office of Training and Education, is a good starting point for conducting a self-review of a hazard communication program. It is by no means all-inclusive, and should be added to or deleted from as needed, depending on a facility's particular operations. It can, however, provide a jump-start to a safety manager's thought process regarding hazard communications.
Hazard Communication Self-Inspection
- Is there a list of hazardous substances used in your workplace?
- Is there a written hazard communication program dealing with Material Safety Data Sheets, labeling and employee training?
- Is each container for a hazardous substance (i.e. vats, bottles, storage tanks, etc.) labeled with product identity and a hazard warning (communication of the specific health hazards and physical hazards)?
- Is there a Material Safety Data Sheet readily available for each hazardous substance used?
- Is there an employee training program for hazardous substances?
- Does the program include:
An explanation of what an MSDS is and how to use and obtain one?
MSDS contents for each hazardous substance or class of substances?
Explanation of "Right to Know"?
Identification of where an employee can see the employer's written hazard communication program and where hazardous substances are present in their work areas?
The physical and health hazards of substances in the work area and specific protective measures to be used?
Details of the hazard communication program, including how to use the labeling system and MSDSs?
- Are employees trained in the following:
How to recognize tasks that might result in occupational exposure?
How to use work practice and engineering controls and personal protective equipment and to know their limitations?
How to obtain information on the types selection, proper use, location, removal handling, decontamination and disposal of personal protective equipment?
Who to contact and what to do in an emergency?
Include your local police department in the planning phase.
It is important to establish a chain of command. Having a specific person in charge will alleviate a lot of panic. If you are part of a complex or share the building with other businesses it is imperative that a chain of command is established amongst all of the tenants.
Try to restrict parking to 300 ft. from the building. If this is not possible, restrict parking that is closer to the building to authorized vehicles only.
Good housekeeping is essential. Trash and dumpster areas should remain free from debris. Combustible materials should be disposed or protected if further use is anticipated.
Have a current blueprint handy and stored with the designated command unit.
If you or someone in your organization receives a bomb threat stress the following:
- Be calm, courteous and listen (do not interrupt the caller)
- Pretend difficulty with hearing the caller. This is an effort to keep them talking.
- If the caller will let you, ask questions.
- Note how familiar the caller is with the facility.
- Note any particular voice characteristics or backgrounds noises.
- Write down the specific words used by the caller.
Detecting Suspicious Packages/Letters:
Most bombers set up and deliver the bomb themselves; some send them by mail or package carriers.
- If delivered by a carrier, inspect the item for lumps, bulges, or protrusions without applying pressure.
- If delivered by a carrier, check if the item is heavy on one side.
- Handwritten addresses or labels from companies are improper. Check to see if the company exists and if it sent a package or letter.
- Packages wrapped in string are automatically suspicious. Modern packaging materials have eliminated the need for twine or string.
- Excess postage on small packages or letters indicates that the object was not weighed by the Post Office.
- Look to see if there is no postage or non-canceled postage.
- Look for any foreign writing, addresses, or postage.
- Handwritten notes are suspicious, such as: "To Be Opened in the Privacy of", "CONFIDENTIAL", "Your Lucky Day is Here", "Prize Enclosed."
- Improper spelling of common names, places, or titles.
- Generic or incorrect titles.
- Leaks, stains, or protruding wires, string, tape, etc.
- Hand delivered or "dropped off for a friend" packages or letters.
- No return address or nonsensical return address.
- Any letters or packages arriving before or after a phone call from an unknown person asking if the item was received.
To be prepared, make absolutely certain that there are several smoke detectors around the workplace and they are checked periodically to ensure that they are working.
Assign plant fire supervisors who are to be responsible for a fluid evacuation.
Ensure that there are people that are familiar with first aid procedures.
All workplace buildings must have a full complement of the proper type of fire extinguisher for the fire hazards that are present.
Employees assigned to use fire extinguishers must be instructed on the hazards of fighting fires and how to properly operate all types of fire extinguishers.
Fire suppression systems enhance fire safety in the workplace if they are properly installed and maintained. Their biggest assets are the alarm that sounds when a fire erupts and the fact that it immediately rains water on the affected area often minimizing damages and injuries.
*Please note that when dealing with fires in areas that contain hazardous materials, there may be more critical procedures due to reactions of water and certain chemicals.
Make certain that all employees know the following:
- When the alarm sounds or when employees are notified of a fire, they are to evacuate immediately. They are NOT to make any personal stops.
- Do not pick up the phone or use the PA system. They are only to be used by plant fire officials.
Make sure appropriate phone numbers are beside every phone.
Remain calm. Do not shout "FIRE."
Notify the people through the appropriate means. For example, turn on the alarm or make an announcement over the PA.
Dial (phone number designated by management) and give the operator the location of the fire. Be specific, for example…floor, wing, room number….
Get out of the building.
The following are types of alerts issued by National Weather Service:
- Tornado Watch: Conditions are right for a tornado. Keep apprised of weather conditions and be ready to get to a safe area.
- Tornado Warning: A tornado or funnel cloud has actually been spotted. Get to safe areas immediately in the event the tornado approaches your area.
Identify safe areas:
- Lower levels, such as basements and underground garages.
- Interior rooms, ones with out windows and smaller in size.
When a tornado watch has been issued by the National Weather Service, an announcement should be sounded followed by any pertinent weather information and instructions for employees (if there are seven or fewer employees, notification can be done orally).
If a tornado is spotted anywhere near the building, make a very clear and concise announcement about emergency evacuation procedures. (i.e. a tornado horn).
The assigned safety manager (at least one per area) should help direct all employees in appropriate procedures and conduct counts once their group has entered the safe area.
Have radios and telephones located in the Safe Areas to stay informed about weather conditions.
You should have the police department and fire department’s phone numbers posted in the Safe Areas.
Loss of data can create enormous productivity problems. Whether a company faces a natural disaster or a simple loss of power, important data can be lost. With proper backup systems in place, the disruptions can be minimized. Below is a checklist of items you might want to consider in your company.
- Computer Tape Backups (servers or on individual PCs).
- Perform daily backups of all information on the server. Place in a safe storage area off site (i.e. safe deposit box).
- Test the backups for data integrity.
- Run and maintain current anti-virus software (servers and PCs).
- Have programs in place to safeguard against the following:
- Fire protection - keep the server and important information in a secure room with fire walls and a waterless fire suppression system.
- Flood Damage - keep the servers on an upper level floor or at least lifted of the floor if they are located on a lower level.
- Hackers- for protection against web site disruption and data integrity, have personal firewalls for anyone directly connected to the Internet.
Take a "what-if" approach to analyzing what equipment and tools could pose a problem during a power outage, or what would happen if the power came on. A step-by-step procedures should be assigned for each person/position.
- Pumping operations
- Power tools
- Automatic shutoffs
- Heating systems
- Automatic values
- Computers and network servers
- Seal open chemical containers early on. Prevent spills later as people get busy when the power comes back on.
The simultaneous startup of the facility’s equipment may cause a tremendous voltage drop that may cause damage to sensitive electronic equipment and computers.
Think Lockout/Tagout Situations!
- Get portable two-way radios and flashlights for key people (maintenance, management, etc.).
- Keep a battery powered radio on hand to monitor external conditions since the outage may be due to other circumstances such as bad weather, fire….
- Provide ample lighting in the assembly area and you may even be able to get some light paperwork, inspection or some assembly done.
- Conduct drills to help determine other problematic or hazardous conditions.
- Create an easy to find meeting place for all employees to assemble.
- Do a head count to see if anyone is stranded out in the factory or otherwise missing.
- Check to see if your phones are down and establish who has a cell phone to call for help.
- If people must leave the assembly area for ANY reason, send them in groups of two or three with specified check-in times.
- Use electrical interrupter switches (drop-outs) to ensure that drill presses, bench grinders, etc. do not automatically restart.
- Manually shut down as many multi-phase motors as possible. Occasionally, when the power comes back on, the spike may cause a circuit leg to trip. This, in turn, causes a single phase condition which may lead to a fire in the motor.
- Provide distractions for employees while waiting for the power to return. This is great time for catch-up training.
For quality control, product in the middle of production may have to be scrapped, so alert operators monitor quality control.
If you employ any individuals who might need assistance exiting the building, getting to a safe location, or taking personal assistance equipment with them in the event of a work interruption, it is wise to prepare in advance. Be sure that more than one person in the worker’s area knows how to assist the disabled employee. Above all, do not assume you know what’s best for assisting an employee with a disability. Ask them what methods work best for them. Sometimes, accommodating their needs will be much simpler than what you might have anticipated.
- Ensure that all walkways and exits meet the requirements stated by law.
- When developing a plan for evacuating an employee with a disability, first ask the employee how you can ensure their safety during different types of disasters. (Do not ask this question during an interview process before you have hired a disabled applicant.) The employee will indicate what types of accommodation work best for them. For additional options or to find out the most cost-effective methods/tools, contact your state disability agency or call 1-800-ADA-WORK.
Things you need to know:
- You may not discriminate against people with disabilities because of your fear for their safety during a disaster.
- Safety procedures for people with disabilities must be equal to those who do not have a disability.
- Any potential evacuation scenarios that might arise from a disaster must be worked out before an incident occurs.
Assistance for those in wheelchairs:
- Create a buddy system so there is someone responsible for ensuring the safety of the disabled employee.
- Assign two strong individuals and practice lifting techniques. In some cases it will be necessary to leave the wheelchair behind.
- Make certain the individual knows that safety comes FIRST.
Employees with speech and hearing impairments:
- Designated buddies should have pre-determined hand gestures, facial expressions and body language to communicate the situation. Have the buddies work together to find a useful system.
- Always have a back-up. For example pre-printed cards.
- Encourage co-workers and employees to take some courses in sign language.
Employees with visual impairments:
- Furnish evacuation procedures in methods your vision-impaired employee can use. They will be able to tell you if they prefer braille, tapes or oral instruction. Remember the quality of the method in which you disseminate the information to non-disabled employees must be the same as what you disseminate the visually impaired.
- Have tactile cues along the escape route for both disabled and non-disabled workers. In the case of a fire, everyone becomes visually impaired.
- Alarms or warning bells along the escape route can be helpful as well.
For more information, see the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission advice on the evacuation of disabled workers.
Violence prevention should be an important consideration in every workplace. The leading cause of death for women in the workplace is related to domestic violence. You can take a number of steps to reduce risks of violence at your workplace.
- Communicate a policy of zero-tolerance for workplace threats and violence
- Encourage employees to promptly report incidents and suggest ways to reduce or eliminate risks
- Establish a comprehensive plan for maintaining security in the workplace
- Assign responsibility for assessing existing and potential violence hazards and mitigate them.
- Ask employees to notify you of any restraining orders they may have had issued
A well-designed workplace violence program will save you money.
Employees injured on the job are eligible for worker’s compensation. This in and of itself should convince employers to have policies regarding workplace violence. However, some states allow injured employees to sue employers on the basis of gross negligence. Good key components in a workplace violence policy include the following:
- Domestic violence and sexual harassment make it clear who to report incidents to
- A workplace violence policy must include the confidential means to report threats
- Work site review and analysis
- Develop guidelines on threats and violent incidents
- Community Resources (e.g., Crime Prevention groups and the company’s employee assistance program)
On April 17, 2007 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a bird flu vaccine and the federal government immediately made a significant order for stockpiling purposes. The vaccine will not be available commercially, but will be used if and when there is an outbreak in the United States. Clinical laboratory tests show that the vaccine is only affective about half of the time and requires two shots spread out over the course of a month.
Swine Flu/H1N1 Influenza A
On June 11, 2009 the World Health Organization raised the pandemic alert to the highest level, phase 6, after confirming with virus experts and member countries that the novel H1N1 virus, which causes in most people a mild seasonal-flu-like illness, is spreading from person to person in a sustained way in 74 countries on three continents.
Below is a comprehensive Powerpoint presentation for employers on the H1N1 virus along with key facts and tips from U.S. and World Health Organization officials that employers should review.
What is the employer's role?
In the event of pandemic influenza, employers will play a key role in protecting employees' health and safety as well as limiting any negative impacts to the economy and society. Planning for pandemic influenza is critical. Companies that provide critical infrastructure services, such as power and telecommunications, also have a special responsibility to plan for continued operation in a crisis and should plan accordingly. As with any catastrophe, having a contingency plan is essential.
What can you expect?
Unlike natural disasters or terrorist events, an influenza pandemic would be widespread, affecting multiple areas of the U.S. and other countries at the same time. A pandemic would also be an extended event, with multiple waves of outbreaks in the same geographic area; each outbreak could last from six to eight weeks. Waves of outbreaks might occur over a year or more. Your workplace could experience:
- Absenteeism - A pandemic could affect as many as 40 percent of the workforce during periods of peak illness. Employees could be absent because they are sick, they must care for sick family members or for children if schools or day care centers are closed, or they are afraid to come to work.
- Change in patterns of commerce - During a pandemic, consumer demand for items related to infection control is likely to increase dramatically, while consumer interest in other goods and methods for obtaining those goods may change and decline.
- Interrupted supply/delivery - Shipments of items from those geographic areas severely affected by a pandemic may be delayed or cancelled altogether.
Plan, plan and plan some more.
To reduce the impact of a pandemic on your operations, employees, customers and the general public, it is important for all businesses and organizations to begin continuity planning for a pandemic now. Lack of continuity planning can result in a cascade of failures as employers attempt to address challenges of a pandemic with insufficient resources and employees who might not be adequately trained in the jobs they will be asked to perform. Proper planning will allow employers to better protect their employees and prepare for changing patterns of commerce and potential disruptions in supplies or services.
Employers may be surprised to learn that there are numerous requirements imposed on them if a pandemic should occur. For example, under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), employers have an obligation under the "General Duty Clause" to protect employees against "recognized hazards" at a place of business. Thus, if the employer becomes aware that infected employees or visitors have come to the worksite, the employer is obligated to let employees know and/or to take measures to prevent the spread of infection. If wide-spread infection occurs in a specific geographic area, OSHA might have a difficult time proving that an infection actually occurred at the employer’s premises and thus hold the employer liable. While it is unlikely OSHA will hold employers liable for the spread of a pandemic, particularly in the cases of hospitals, the possibility exists. OSHA would, however, require the employer to develop a plan to prevent any further infection. Infections at work would qualify for appropriate documentation under OSHA’s recordkeeping rules (i.e., OSHA 300 Log). Canada has similar recordkeeping requirements.
Other employer obligations or areas where employers may be affected include the following:
- Workers compensation claims if it can be proven that infection occurred at the workplace.
- Health insurance claims.
- Short- and Long-Term Disability claims
- Life insurance claims
- Family and Medical Leave taken by infected employees or employees who take leave to care for qualified family members. Note: many states have additional or substantially different requirements that employers must comply with. Canada’s provinces have similar laws. Employers should consider "starting the clock" for Family and Medical Leave time keeping purposes if employees become sick or stay home to take care of relatives.
- If an employee becomes infected and develops a disability as a result of the infection, the employer will be obligated to work with the employee and doctor in developing reasonable accommodations for when the employee can return to work, as per the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state laws.
The U.S. government's website for pandemic preparation (www.pandemicflu.gov) provides a checklist for employers to assist in taking the following recommended actions:
1. Plan for the impact of a pandemic on your business;
2. Plan for the impact of a pandemic on your employees and customers;
3. Establish policies to be implemented during a pandemic;
4. Allocate resources to protect your employees and customers during a pandemic;
5. Communicate to and educate your employees; and
6. Coordinate with external organizations and help your community.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also suggests that employers:
1. Identify your organization's essential functions, which might include accounting, payroll and information technology, and the individuals who perform them; cross-train employees to perform essential functions to ensure resiliency;
2. Plan for interruptions of essential governmental services like sanitation, water, power and transportation or disruptions to the food supply (i.e., your employees might need back-up plans for car pools in case mass transit is interrupted); and
3. Update sick leave and family and medical leave policies and communicate with employees about the importance of staying away from the workplace if they become ill.
In addition, each state has a website designed specifically to provide pandemic flu information. The website for your respective state can be found by adding your state's name to the end of the following Web address: www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/states/xxx.
- Setup service agreements with similar printers to service your clients if your business must temporarily shut down. See www.printing.org and your local Printing Industries of America affiliate for a listing of printers. Typically, these agreements require that the clients may not be solicited by the contractor for six months after the business is returned to your company. These service agreements probably should be with more than two printers outside of your immediate area.
- Setup contingency plans with all your vendors in case their production or supply routes are affected. These may address alternative methods of shipment, different supply chains, back up vendors, etc. Checklists should be developed for communications and tests or mock drills should be considered to ensure backup systems will work. Keep in mind that flu season in North America occurs during the winter months so weather conditions should be considered in your planning if appropriate.
- Create communication plans for keeping customers and vendors up-to-date on your operations during an outbreak. These should include a variety of communication channels and backup contact personnel. Phone, email, web page, fax, etc., should all be considered.
- If a pandemic does affect your community, local authorities will most likely impose a quarantine for the area. The extent to which the quarantine is geographically enforced will depend on the severity of the outbreak and effective treatments/vaccines that are available at the time of the outbreak. Therefore, non-perishable food, water, prescription and common over-the counter medications, toiletries, first aid kits, soap, etc., should be obtained and stock piled. The amount will depend upon the number of employees that will be needed to continue production operations. The extent to which you can still operate the business will depend on the extent of the quarantine. A local outbreak in your area may mean that your business will be shut down until the "all-clear" is given by government authorities. Some experts have suggested that a quarantine could be imposed for as long as six weeks. This would mean strict travel restrictions, school closures, business closures, etc.
- Employees should be encouraged to consider stocking up on supplies for home as well as they may be limited in their movement and access. Supplies would most certainly be shipped in and distributed by government authorities and charities, but the response time may be varied due a variety of factors (such as size of the affected area, extent of the pandemic across the country, how long the pandemic lasts, etc.).
- In your food preparation and shelter arrangements, note that utilities could be affected during local outbreaks.
- Maintain and monitor a list of employees who have taken sick leave.
- Identify and obtain contact information for local hospitals, clinics, and public health offices.
- Maintain a list of visitors to the workplace in the event of infection being tied to the workplace so the individuals can be contacted.
- Implement hand-washing requirements, cough/sneeze etiquette, see http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/stopgerms.htm and http://www.cdc.gov/ounceofprevention/ for more information. This should be done before an outbreak occurs so employees and families get in the habit of good hygiene. A supply of tissues, hand washing supplies, and cleaning products should be on-hand.
- If an outbreak does occur in your immediate area, consider taking temperatures of employees and visitors before they enter the building. Plus, consider allowing or requiring employees to wear masks (N95 masks are commonly considered best.)
- Require that sick employees stay home and not return to work until fully recovered, with a doctor’s release.
- Create modified work schedules and consider combining work shifts in case a significant portion of your work force becomes ill.
- Assign employees responsibilities and backups to everyone in response to the pandemic, such as calling local authorities for updates, disinfecting phones, keyboards, etc. (This will help employees feel a sense of empowerment over the situation.)
- Create communication plans for keeping customers and vendors up-to-date on your operations during an outbreak. These should include a variety of communication channels and backup contact personnel. Phone, email, web page, fax, etc., should all be considered.
- Vacation and sick leave policies should be reviewed and possibly revised to address accruals and deficits if the company wants to allow.
- If the company is forced to shut down, consider disseminating information on how to file an unemployment claim. Many state unemployment commission agencies have internet and phone claims processing available. It is important to note that brief unemployment claims typically do not have a major impact on the company’s unemployment experience rating. Contact your state’s local unemployment office now for procedures and documents so your company will be ready.
- Customize the Centers of Disease Control Business Checklist for your company. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic/pdf/businessChecklist.pdf
- CDC's Communications Toolkit for Employers http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/business/toolkit/.
- White House’s National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza http://www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/nspi_implementation.pdf.
- Preparing for the Flu: A Communication Toolkit for Businesses and Employers
- SHRM and the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) online toolkit
- American Medical Association, www.amafluhelp.org
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services [HHS] National Vaccine Program http://www.hhs.gov/nvpo/pandemics/
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services http://pandemicflu.gov (for Canada see http://www.influenza.gc.ca/pt_e.html).
- United Kingdom: Health Protection Agency www.hpa.org.uk
- American Red Cross – Shelter in Place Guidance http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/shelterinplace.html
- National Institute for Chemical Studies-Shelter-in-Place Information Center http://www.nicsinfo.org/SIP%20Center.htm
- Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) Early Detection Data System (shows wild bird sampling for avian flu across U.S.) http://wildlifedisease.nbii.gov/ai/
- Family Disaster Plan Checklist
- CDC Releases Pandemic Severity Index
http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/community/community_mitigation.pdf (see page 29)
- FDA Approves Bird Flu Vaccine (April 17, 2007)
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, Pandemic Planning
- OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic
- Healthline's Cold and Flu: Learning Center, http://www.healthline.com/channel/cold-and-flu.html
Notify your supervisor of any unplanned or required absence;
Ensure that you seek the required medical care;
Managers should notify the Human Resources team [ insert phone number] of any absences that are 3 days or longer;
Stay informed through the company employee portal website which offers the latest updates for all employees in general.
Depending on your company’s business, turnover, potential disasters (in-house and in the community), etc., your company should consider what are the appropriate types of drills to conduct and their frequency. Once or twice a year is sufficient for most companies. Fire and chemical spills may be more likely for one facility, while a natural disaster more likely at another.
Points to remember.
- Have plans for various types of disasters with responsibilities assigned and written
- Measure effectiveness and efficiency of response times and if checklists are followed
- Review and modify the plan for weaknesses
- Notify Police and Fire Departments of drills beforehand. Depending on your potential disasters and your local jurisdiction, the local Police and Fire/Rescue may want to participate as well
- Notify neighboring businesses of the drill. This will prevent any unnecessary panic in the area if your drill is too life-like
- If you’re in a business/industrial park, notify the landlord/management company of the drill
The following was initially published by the American Society of Safety Engineers in Des Plaines, Illinois. This example might help your company develop its own plan after a disaster has occurred.
- STRUCTURAL SECURITY: Have the structural integrity of the building or facility validated by qualified professionals before anyone enters the facility.
- SAFE ENTRY: Contact the proper government agencies to get approval to resume occupancy of the building. Do not enter a facility or building unless the proper clearances have been attained.
- CLEAN-UP SAFETY: Implement your clean-up and business resumption processes in a safe and healthful manner. You will accomplish nothing if your employees are injured or killed during the phase-in period. Provide training in proper selection and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for your employees and yourself such as eyewear, gloves, and dust masks/respirators during cleaning, and where appropriate in other operations.
- AIR QUALITY ASSESSMENT: Make sure the atmosphere in the workplace environment is tested for asbestos and other chemical/toxic agents. The issue of air quality is one a business may wish to pay careful attention to when restarting business operations.
- VENTILATION: Have vents checked to assure that water heaters and gas furnaces are clear and operable. Dust and debris can stop or impede airflow decreasing its quality and healthfulness. Safely start up heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, which includes prior inspection of lines before energizing and pressurizing of the systems. Even if you have done so previously, test your systems after inspection. Do not wait for cold weather. It is a good idea to blow cold air through HVAC systems at first, as opposed to warm weather, as it will help prevent the growth of mold in duct systems.
- INTERIOR, EXTERIOR EXPOSURES: For interior spaces, ensure no wall or ceiling materials are in danger of falling. If such exposures do exist, the work environment is not ready for occupancy. Check for cracked windows and outside building materials, as these could fall onto pedestrians at any time -- now and in the future.
- PROTECTION EQUIPMENT: For fire and smoke alarms it is important to assure that these have been cleaned and tested before allowing occupancy of the building. If such systems are wired into other systems, ensure that they are still compatible and work in an efficient and effective manner. Thorough inspection of fire-fighting systems such as sprinkler and chemical equipment functions is a must do item.
- ELECTRICAL SAFETY: Have checks made of electrical systems, computer cables and telecommunications equipment to ensure that they are still safe and there is no danger of exposure to electricity. Wiring inspections should be conducted from the outside in to ensure all wiring and connections are not in danger of shorting out due to water damage from rain or fire-fighting efforts.
- USE EXISTING FEDERAL GUIDELINES: Utilize existing start-up guidance materials provided by government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
- HEALTH/SANITATION ISSUES: The general facility sanitation systems with the facility should be inspected and tested to guard against potential employee exposure to toxic agents. Food sanitation should also be an issue. Any unused foodstuffs should be discarded. If the workspace has a kitchen, inspect oven hoods and other ventilation devices to ensure they are not clogged and are working efficiently.
- OFFICE FURNITURE: Inspect the furniture to ensure it can withstand expected loads and usage. Ensure that storage devices and equipment that are screwed or bolted to railing systems on walls and panels have not become unstable due to water damage or shaking due to explosions. Inspect office equipment to ensure it is level, stable, and cannot tip over.
- LIGHTING: Make sure there are adequate illumination levels for employees. Emergency lighting should be checked to ensure it operates and functions in the correct manner.
- EMERGENCY PLANNING: Ensure that there is a clear path of egress for the emergency evacuation of employees, that the fire extinguishers are still operable and that checks for damage and serviceability are made to see if any fire extinguishers were used during the disaster. If damage is found, they should be replaced immediately.
- SOLID/HAZARDOUS WASTE REMOVAL: Broken glass, debris, or other materials with cutting edges should be safely gathered and disposed. Ensure that such materials can be disposed before collection to avoid creating even bigger hazards for both employees and the public. Solid waste disposal will be an issue, especially if hazardous waste is involved. Evaluate waste disposal issues prior to beginning clean-up operations to ensure it can be properly disposed.
- POWER CHECKS: If there is no access to electricity on the site, do not use fueled generators or heaters indoors. Ensure that there are no gas and sewer leaks in your facility. You will need to check with your local utilities for information regarding power, gas, water, and sewer usage.
- INSPECTIONS: Use qualified professionals for the inspection of elevators, life safety systems, and associated safety systems to ensure they are working. Do not have your employees perform functions they are not trained to do. Select competent and credentialed professionals for safety, health, and environmental consultation.
- CHECK COMPUTER SYSTEMS: If your facility has computer applications – see that lines and cabling are checked to avoid leaking of chemicals.
- EMERGENCY PROCEDURES: Create a new emergency plan and distribute it to employees as soon as they return to work. In case of emergency, designate a place for employees to gather once out of the building or a phone number they should call following the emergency so that all can be accounted for. Update the emergency contact list of names and telephone numbers.
- MACHINE INSPECTIONS: Inspect the condition of drain, fill, plumbing, and hydraulic lines on processes and machines. It would be prudent to have plumbing lines evaluated and tested in order to detect any hazardous gases.
- SURFACES: Make sure flooring surfaces are acceptable and free from possible slip, trip and fall hazards – the second leading cause of on-the-job deaths in the U.S.
Keeping the Business Going
In order to keep the business going, you will need facilities, equipment, manpower, continuous materials and supplies, and distribution capabilities. Below are a few steps to help you in preparing for a disruption in business, as suggested by Contingency Planning and Management Magazine, January/February 2001 issue.
- Prepare and protect documentation. Depending on your business and the disaster, your building and manufacturing schematics, models, drawings, etc., will be essential to get running again in an interim location or new permanent site. Protect these documents in a safe, and if possible, have copies stored off-site.
- Supply Chain. Paper, ink, chemicals, plates, etc., are all essential in a printing operation. Assess your vulnerabilities and have "back-ups" ready or talk to your suppliers about how they will meet demand if their operations are affected.
- Distribution System. Manufacturing may be fine, but if your distribution system does not work, revenue will be affected. Backups have to be found and tested. This is especially true if you need to go to a temporary location.
- Restoring Production. Again, depending on the disaster, this may take hours, days, weeks, or months to do, but it is key for the company’s survival. Shifting production to another printer through a pre-established relationship will prove beneficial to all. Such a relationship could include an agreement that the "contract" printer agrees not to solicit business from clients for 12 months after your company is operational again. Similar capabilities and capacities are key.
- Test the Plan. After your plans are established, regular testing will identify problem areas and keep your employees ready in a true emergency. Plus, PIA suggests that testing be conducted twice a year and during different seasons of the year since production demands might be different and some times weather can affect receiving/distribution capabilities.
- Insurance: Will your insurance plans cover the business for various disasters? Will they cover against "acts of terrorism," which can be different from "acts of war." Insurance policy numbers, contact names, and phone numbers should be part of your company’s disaster plan.
When the Disaster Strikes.
A step-by-step checklist for your team is key. Focus on the disaster itself first and the urgent needs (medical, fire, contacting relatives of personnel, dealing with the press, etc.).
- Activate your disaster teams. Not all teams may be needed, depending on the disaster (eg. spills, fire, natural disaster, violence in the workplace, national emergency, loss of power, etc.).
- After the disaster is under control, calls to the following need to be made.
- Insurance companies
- Contract manufacturers
- Disaster Clean-up firm (if necessary)
Other considerations include what is probably on your employees’ minds, such as payroll and benefits. You may have insurance to take care of these expenses for a while, but claims sometimes take time to process and your payroll might be next week. If possible, a company should try to build up a special reserve fund to cover at least one payroll, payroll taxes, and employee benefit premiums.
In the event of an employee death, firms may find that our Death Checklist will be beneficial to ensure pay, insurance, family and other employee concerns are addressed.
From a production perspective, if your firm does not have other locations that can pick up customer work, then it may be prudent to establish an agreement in advance with some friendly competitors, possibly out of the immediate area in case of broad utility disruptions. Here is a Sample Cooperative Production Support Services Agreement that has been used by printing firms in the northeast. http://www.printing.org/page/3088