It Can Happen Anytime and Anywhere
Here in the Midwest, we just experienced a sudden spur of severe weather this past week and it was an eye-opener for a few of our branches that were in the path of a very fast and furious storm system. Recently, we wanted to take a focus on weather related emergencies because it’s not always at the top of our mind for preparedness and with the recent weather occurrences in the Midwest we thought it was the right time to start a conversation. And, since June is still National Safety month and National Forklift Safety Day just concluded, we thought the topic fit in quite well with our previous blogs. Now, we don’t claim to be the weather experts in emergency situations, but we hope you find some of these resources useful and informative because it all boils down to preparedness and knowing what to do if something happens.
What To Do If There Is An Emergency While You’re At Work?
Let’s face it; the industries we’re operating in don’t typically supply the sturdiest of facilities for us to work in. Many of us are in warehouses, distribution centers, manufacturing facilities and others. We know that in some cases, the only thing between you and the elements are some sheets of metal, a roof and some racking full of product. Additionally, our customers and other businesses in industrial applications like materials handling, construction and agriculture are outside operating heavy equipment, so it’s especially important to keep those who are exposed to the elements as safe as possible.
So, what do you do in an emergency situation? We searched several trusted sites like Weather.com, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sites for the best tips for preparedness in emergency situations. If anything, we hope that the article will spark a movement of preparedness in the workplace.
In the event of a weather emergency, Weather.com suggests the following1:
- Have a portable radio available for weather alerts and updates.
- Know where to find or seek shelter in the lowest level or inner most part of a hallway or smaller inner room or a closet.
- Stay away from windows and glass doorways.
- Do not use elevators. If power fails, you don’t want to be trapped.
- Stay inside until you are certain the storm has passed.
- Do not leave a building to “escape” a tornado.
- If you’re outside get inside as quickly as possible and proceed to the safest space or room.
- If you are outside and cannot get inside, crouch for protection next to a strong structure or lie flat in a low lying area. Cover your neck with your arms or a jacket if you have one.
These tips might bring back some memories of tornado drills in your earlier school years, but they’re conducted for a good reason. Practicing drills helps people understand what to do in the event of an emergency situation and can save lives. We found a great checklist for tornado preparedness provided by the American Red Cross and can be accessed by going to http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4340177_Tornado.pdf.2
Tornadoes are not the only weather emergency to be concerned about. We all know that severe weather can produce some pretty wicked storms that bring lightning, hail, heavy winds and heavy rain. These can create challenges for industrial applications. For example, if you’re outside operating a forklift, excavator, tractor or whatever else is made of metal you’ll want to make sure that you’re aware of any severe weather that may come your way. You don’t want to get stuck on a large piece of metal machinery when there is thunder and lightning. According to NOAA, there are over 25 million lightning strikes each year in just the United States. Some of you might argue that you’d have better odds winning a lottery than getting struck by lightning, but when working outside and on heavy equipment is only increasing that chance. We found this OSHA factsheet to be extremely useful when it comes to working outdoors and lightning safety http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/resources/OSHA_FS-3863_Lightning_Safety_05-2016.pdf.3
How to Start the Conversation at Work
Don’t forget there are many weather related emergencies beyond tornadoes and lightning like flooding, heat, extreme cold and more. But again, we hope that readers will find some useful resources within this article that sparks good conversation about weather related emergencies while at work. Ask yourself, if there was severe weather tomorrow, would you know what to do at work? Do you practice drills? Do you and your employees have a known procedure to follow in the event of emergency? We found out that September is National Preparedness Month.4 Let’s make September the starting point of making sure to talk about a plan. Be safe. Be smart. Be prepared.
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