Most businesses design their emergency response plans to organize employees in case of a natural disaster or spills of hazardous substances. However, since the uncertainty of Covid-19, it’s best practice for businesses to designate a specific team of employees to facilitate the emergency plan for protecting employees, visitors, and contractors during times of crisis.
Having a trained team to put it into action can minimize the impacts of the emergency on employees, customers, and your bottom line. Designing an Emergency Response Team (ERT) requires thought, commitment, and effective synergy between team members dedicated to your business’s health and safety. Automatically enlisting managers into a role in the ERT is not a wise idea. A member of the ERT takes a confident and dedicated person willing to go the extra mile. Today, I will discuss the different roles involved in an ERT so you can effectively choose qualified members for your team.
Before you create an ERT, you must first have an emergency response plan for them to follow. The basic outline of an emergency response plan consists of four areas:
In response to COVID 19, companies pledged to create and implement a plan to identify and mitigate workplace situations, which may introduce, expose, or spread the coronavirus.
How will you protect employees, citizens, residents, visitors, and assets against imminent threats and hazards? Evaluate life protective action procedures such as evacuation, shelter-in-place, or lockdown.
Determine what is necessary to respond efficiently to save lives, protect property, and meet basic human needs during an emergency. Decide how you are going to regulate employees, the workplace, and the operations of the business.
What is the plan of action to restore, strengthen, and revitalize the infrastructure, operations, health, and community affected by the emergency? How will you support employees, customers, and vendors during the crisis and protect the business’s reputation?
Designing Your Team
Choosing who to be on your workplace ERT is a big decision and you want to make sure to ask employees who are confident, have good decision-making skills and have a synergy between the other ERT members.
Human Resources person: The word “human” in human resources becomes most evident during a crisis and is when the HR departments need to genuinely care for the employees. A crisis is scary, and when you have an entire company on edge – you need someone people can trust to have their best interests in mind when they express their fears and concerns.
When specific incidents related to the emergency occur, document and direct them to the Incident Ambassador. This will keep all occurrences stay organized and easier to address instead of being spread out among various departments and managers. The Incident Ambassador can then decide whom to involve, how to handle the situation and document that it gets resolved.
Health and Safety Commander
Having one person trained to monitor each department’s health and safety concerns specific to the emergency minimizes the chances for complacency. Ensuring that employees are safe and the environment is free of potential hazards is the prime objective of the Health and Safety Commander.
The Inventory Ambassador should address items needed on hand to aid in the emergency. Having one person in charge of monitoring what is required and ordering it will narrow the chance of miscommunication between departments and accounting. Managers don’t always know how many boxes of gloves or bottles of hand sanitizers are left, and if they are wrong, employees and customers can be left unprotected.
Quality Control Commander
Quality Control Commander is responsible for checking the other ERT members’ work, ensuring that your team is accountable, and the mistakes minimal. This team member’s role is to check in with each area of the company to see if they have received the items they need, watch for any health and safety concerns that may have been overlooked, and make sure that every “incident” is reported to the Incident Ambassador.
Public Information Officer
Your customers and community will be concerned about your business in several ways; is it still in operation; Is it safe to go there; do they want to support your business through this crisis? The public information officer will communicate to the public all that you are doing in the workplace to protect your employees and your customers. Your company brand and culture are vulnerable during a crisis. Having one person to speak to the media will give a confident voice to your company and limit negative impressions from the public.
Emergency Response Training
Training is essential so that everyone on the ERT knows the emergency response plan and what to do during an emergency. Training should include a description and discussion about the individual roles and responsibilities and how they affect one another. The team should meet quarterly to connect, discuss, and make adjustments to the emergency response plan if necessary.
In conclusion, having an emergency response plan is essential, and having a confident team to manage it is pivotal. Knowing the team is assembled and that the company has a plan in place will show your employees that you care about their well-being and the survival of the business. Employees who respect and trust their employers are going to be loyal and productive during times of uncertainty.