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In Case of Emergency.....Does HR Have a Plan in Place?


From our partner Toni Ahl at EEO Advantage

Is your company prepared in case of an emergency like an explosion or shooting? You may be wondering why I’m writing about this issue since it is not covered by EEOC. The Louisville SHRM group is preparing for our day of legal updates. As part of that program, we are including a panel discussion about the aftermath of an emergency at the workplace from an HR standpoint, law enforcement perspective and the legal point of view.

In preparing for this panel, I have been included in the conference calls to discuss what issues will be presented at the conference. These calls have opened my eyes to being prepared. Most companies hold fire drills. Some companies are even holding active shooter drills now. There are so many other issues, however, to consider in case of an emergency. I am not an expert in this area but thought I would point out a few of the areas to consider.

The first area is having a plan. Law enforcement is willing to work with companies to develop plans. It is in the best interest of the law enforcement agencies to be familiar with the buildings in case they have to enter them during an emergency. You may even be asked to provide a diagram or blueprint of the building to assist with this process. Your employees need to know where the exits are, not just one exit. You need to have designated areas for your employees to gather so that you can account for them. Employees need to be told what to expect if law enforcement arrives at the building. In the case of a shooting, employees who are leaving the building are told to keep their hands up so that the officers can identify that they do not have weapons.

If you have an emergency at your company, you may need to have a plan to continue operations at another location for a period of time. Following an explosion, the company may be closed for several days for repairs. Some of your operations like HR need to be available for your employees. A continuance of operations plan is imperative for the company. There should be back-up plans for strategic positions in case someone in one of those positions is harmed or hurt during the emergency. Having a designated spokesperson to handle press releases and to officially answer questions is a good idea. And, before the person speaks to the press, having an attorney vet the release is a good idea.

After you have developed your plan, it needs to be shared with your employees, so they know what to do if something happens. The plan should be covered at new employee orientation and discussed with employees at least annually. You may want to discuss benefits which could be available to employees if the facility is shut down for a time. By discussing benefits beforehand, it may alleviate anxiety following the event. Having a practice drill could save lives in case of an emergency and make people more comfortable if the real situation occurs. Plans should be updated as needed.

Is your company insured in case of an emergency? I had never thought about insurance for continuance of operations or salary continuation. Finding out before an emergency what type of insurance the company has and who to contact could be crucial for continuance of operations.

Having the emergency plan available in hardcopy as well as electronically is a good idea. Depending on who is hurt in the event, someone who is not as familiar with the plan may need to take over and execute the plan. Having the plan available electronically and stored in the cloud could be very helpful.

Let’s hope none of us ever have to go through this type of emergency, but it’s certainly better to be prepared!

Ideas for future articles? Contact Toni Ahl at eeoadvantage@gmail.com or (502) 553-7648. I’m also available to assist with training, consulting or investigations.

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