Many things can go wrong on a project, including an accident, injury, or property damage. Hazards on the job could result in worker or third-party injuries. Property damage from man-made disasters, such as a fire or explosion, or a natural disaster, such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, wildfire, or earthquake, can destroy a construction site or render it inaccessible.
Planning for the unexpected ahead of time can help prevent and mitigate risks. An emergency plan, while not foolproof, will go a long way to help guide you and your workers through a crisis and minimize the fallout that typically occurs without a plan in place.
Creating an Emergency Plan
Prior to developing a plan, perform a risk assessment to understand and evaluate the risks your company faces, the processes you already have in place, whether they appropriately address these risks, and where gaps in protocols may exist. In identifying the risks, you can develop new policies and update or revise existing practices to better align with changing or evolving situations and emerging trends.
Once you identify your risks, create an emergency plan that includes:
- Team members responsible for various tasks that may arise during an emergency, along with established reporting lines so all workers know whom to contact depending on the incident or event
- Communicating and training all workers on the emergency plan
- Emergency resources that can be called upon if necessary and estimated response times, based upon distances from fire stations, hospitals, and so on
- Contingencies in the event of a jobsite loss to secure the site, including getting workers to safety, stowing away equipment and materials, and maintaining alternative communication systems should inclement weather impact normal channels
- Designated person (crisis manager, for example) responsible for speaking with any regulatory bodies and the press
- Legal and insurance contact information
In addition to communicating your emergency plan to all workers, share it with all stakeholders, including subcontractors to ensure their activities and exposures have been contemplated, suppliers to address risk to their materials, and the project owner or client to account for any site-specific hazards. The plan should be reevaluated and updated on a regular basis to ensure that it continues to address your risks.