Paul Slater, Vice President — Health, Safety and Environment at GEMS Education says prevention is necessary, but schools should also be ready to handle unforeseen circumstances.
Emergency preparedness is a vital part of any effective health and safety management system. However, even the most mature organisations may face an emergency at some stage, and it is imperative to ensure that the correct framework for managing emergencies is in place, communicated, and understood. Emergencies may include fires, major injuries, and outbreaks of infectious diseases.
Schools should look to establish the following mitigation actions:
- Ensure that each school has a specific emergency plan established by relevant stakeholders within the school and support departments. It should include defined roles and responsibilities, simple and easy to follow procedures which may include flow charts, emergency contact details; and communication methods.
- Regular training will ensure our employees are aware of what to do in the event of an emergency. Training should include all teaching, administration, and support staff.
- The plan must be tested consistently, which can include fire drills in line with any local regulatory requirements and lock down exercises. Physical tests of the procedures should be conducted, table top exercises may be considered.
- Schools must communicate their plans to their employees, relevant stakeholders and new joiners. Contractors attending the premises must also be aware of the correct procedures to follow, this can be arranged through an induction session.
- Clear communication will guarantee that the correct messages are relayed, to the correct people, at the correct time, and is consistent with the organisation’s overall communication strategy.