Plantwide Emergency Warning and Worker Protection

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Are you ready to deal with a fire breaking out at your worksite, a violent worker threatening others, a chemical spill, or any other type of workplace emergency? Are your employees trained and ready in the event of a worst-case scenario? If not, or if your plans and equipment are outdated, it is time to create a solid plan for emergency warning and worker protection in your facility. This is an area that is costly, and sometimes deadly, to ignore.

Having a strong plan for emergency warning and worker protection on your shop floor is not just a good idea, it is part of occupational safety and health regulations.

Workplace emergencies and accidents can cause huge problems for your company. The downtime associated with emergencies is worsened by employees being hurt or otherwise affected by the emergency, and to minimize the impact of an emergency you must be able to notify workers of problems immediately, giving them the chance to evacuate, get to a safe space, conduct medical or rescue operations, and otherwise take measures for safety and health.

Providing for your employees’ awareness and protection is vital, and can be accomplished with available technologies that alert workers to any problems, fast.

You may not think that an emergency could affect you or your employees on the shop floor, but the truth is that emergencies happen anywhere, anytime, to any company. Protect yourself, your workers, and your business by planning ahead and investing in the right products for emergency warning and protection.

What are Workplace Emergencies?

There are various scenarios to plan for when considering possible emergencies. Emergencies can be man-made or natural, including hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters, spills, fires, explosions, and even workplace violence.

A good warning and protection system covers all potential workplace emergencies, in their worst-case scenarios. When planning for preparedness, consider all of the emergencies that might impact your workplace, so you can select the appropriate technologies.

Factors to Consider in Preparedness

Being prepared for an emergency requires thinking ahead. After identifying all potential emergencies, consider what your emergency action plan will be. You will need to include ways for employees to report issues, an evacuation plan including escape routes and safe areas, procedures or any employees who may have to stay behind to combat the emergency, and any considerations for rescue or medical operations undertaken by staff.

Having a way to alert employees to an emergency is very important. Here are two popular methods for creating an alert:

Strobe and Amber Lights

Emergency warning lights, including strobe beacons and amber traffic directors, are an important component in creating an alert system for your shop floor. These lights act as a powerful visual indicator that there is a potential emergency at the work site, even if workers are wearing hearing protection or are otherwise unable to hear an auditory alarm.

It is important to create an alarm system that workers can perceive in various ways, instead of just relying on sound or sight. In this way, emergency warning lights are just one part of a larger system.

In selecting a system for emergency warning lights, consider what will happen if the power goes out in the emergency scenario. You should strongly consider some type of auxiliary power supply to keep the strobe beacons and amber traffic directors shining even if there is no electricity avail-able.

Strobes come in various sizes and colors, so you can select whatever components work best for your facility and your chosen system for alerting workers to issues.

Alarm Sirens

Along with a visual indicator, a strong auditory alarm is a key component of any warning system.

Select a system with a distinctive sound. An alarm needs to be noticeable to your workers, in-stead of being dismissed as industrial noise. The alarm should be different from any other noise on the floor, and loud enough in volume for people to take notice.

Again, a system that stands up even in the event of loss of power is key, as you will want the alarm siren to sound no matter what.

Methods of Worker Protection

Workers need to be protected all of the time in high-risk industrial settings, and particularly, during workplace emergencies. Planning for emergency situations goes beyond creating an alert sys-tem, in this regard. It is equally important to have methods of worker protection in place.

How can you protect your workers?

Install and maintain systems like fire alarm pull stations so that employees are empowered to alert everyone to problems. Fire alarm pull stations are simple, but can save lives.

Have some of your staff trained, equipped, and certified for rescue operations, and ensure that there is always someone, or several people, with that training available in the event of an emergency. Similarly, you should consider how you will provide immediate medical assistance to workers, whether it is through onsite first-aid responders, staff training, or arrangements with a medical facility close to your worksite if that is feasible.

Other training for your workers to aid in their protection could include identifying threats, hazards, and protective actions, procedures for emergency equipment, and any shutdown procedures you may have in place. Ensure that all of your staff understand what they should do in the event of an emergency, or potential emergency, and maintain this training regularly.

Have protective equipment available, such as safety shields, hard hats and safety shoes, respirators, chemical protection, and/or body protection. All protective equipment should be appropriate for workplace hazards.

The Numbers: Why You Need Worker Protection and Alerts

Statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration show exactly why companies need to have strong plans for worker protection and alerts.

Loss of life and injuries from workplace emergencies are numerous. OSHA reports “4,836 workers were killed on the job in 2015 (3.4 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers) — on average, more than 93 a week or more than 13 deaths every day.”

Companies who fail to meet OSHA standards also risk large fines, beyond the risk of employee death or injury. Hazard communication standards were one of the top ten most frequently sited standards by federal OSHA in the fiscal year of 2016.

OSHA dictates that employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace, and those who do not do so can be heavily fined. It is not worth skimping on alert and protection systems, both for the sake of your employees’ well-being, and for the potential monetary and reputation costs to your business.

Choosing the Best Technology

It is clear that an alert and protection system is a non-negotiable component of your facility but how can you be sure that you have the right products and technology for your needs, factoring in specific hazards, environmental concerns, and budget constraints?

Working with experts in the field is a great way to build a system that is ideal for your business, your employees, and your bottom line. Instead of trying to cobble together something that works, hoping that it meets regulatory compliance and doesn’t cost too much to source, install, and maintain you can consult with an expert in the field with the experience and know-how to create a personalized system just for you.

Tomar Electronics has been in the industry for over 40 years, manufacturing high-quality emergency warning products. We engineer, design, and manufacture the system components you need to keep your workers safe, focusing on research and development that will continue to promote emergency preparedness in innovative ways.

Tomar is pleased to work with industrial businesses of all types to provide the visual and audible equipment needed for health and safety standards. Connect with us by calling 800-338-3133, or emailing sales@tomar.com. Our products are here to alert, protect, and keep your shop floor safe.

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