In honor of Dragon Con, which is about to take place in our hometown of Atlanta, we’d like to take this week to once again unite our favorite topics of risk management and nerdom.
Homer Simpson just never seems to know what to do in the event of an emergency, does he? How can you get your employees to know what to do in case of an emergency? How can you get your employees to report incidents so that emergencies can be dealt with before they happen?
It takes a lot of “P” – policies, procedures, planning, practice, practice, practice.
Policies: I’m thinking that the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant probably has policies in place for incidents and emergencies. One good policy may be having the nuclear safety inspector (i.e., Homer’s job) actually inspect each reactor daily. Fictional cartoon power plants aside, policies are important so that your people know what actions, behaviors, and strategies are appropriate. Your people should know your policies so that they can stop emergencies before they happen, keep things running smoothly and safely, and have a clear idea of who is in charge. What if your policy is to keep all egress points closed and locked, with access granted only via a card reader, yet employees regularly flout this policy by keeping doors propped open? It may get rid of some annoyance in their day-to-day functioning to prop doors, but it is against policy, and it increases the risk that an unwanted individual will gain access to the building. Employees need to know your policy and they need to know that the policy has a purpose and that reporting violations improves everyone’s safety.
Procedures: You think there is an actual button/series of buttons and switches Homer should press during a nuclear meltdown? I’m thinking – yes. Does he know what that button/series of buttons and switches is? Possibly, possibly not. Homer should know the procedure (i.e., the series of actions conducted in a certain order) for an emergency. Your people should also know emergency or incident procedures. What should your 10th grade math teacher do if one student threatens another with a knife? What should your front desk receptionist do if an irate client comes in demanding to speak to someone? What should your employees do if an active shooter enters the building? You need to have procedures in place so that your people know what to do.
Planning: Does Homer ever have to fill out incident reports? I mean obviously Homer causes a lot of incidents, and I’m sure he’s technically required to fill out an incident form. My guess is that the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant probably created a bunch of new types of incident reports after Homer started working there. Listen, if you want your people to report incidents and follow the proper policies and procedures, you need to plan ahead. Do your people even know how to report an incident? What’s the good of a policy requiring an incident report when there are no blank incident reports available? We’ve been to schools that have a policy of contacting the security director after an incident, but none of the faculty have the security director’s number. How are they supposed to follow through with policies and procedures when they don’t have the tools or resources necessary to do so? You need to plan ahead and give your people the tools they need to keep the workplace safe.
Practice: Practice, practice, practice. As with any procedure, the more you and your people practice it, the more effective it becomes. Homer routinely does a terrible job on emergency drills, but your people shouldn’t. Drilling an emergency plan, a fire evacuation, or even practicing who to call after an incident is a fundamental part of keeping your people safe. If you want people to report incidents, you need to teach them how to do it and then make them practice it.