How to Prepare a Construction Site for an Emergency

When it comes to responding to an emergency at a construction work site, nothing is more important than coordinating the efforts of firefighters, paramedics and safety professionals.  These different parties aren’t competing for safety; rather they all have different tasks to achieve it.  Because time is such a critical element to responding to an emergency, it’s important a construction team has the training to know what to do when an emergency occurs. Here’s some important information on how to prepare a construction site for an emergency.

When each party, safety professionals, paramedics, and firefighters work together efficiently, it takes less time to accomplish the task at hand—responding to a potentially life threatening situation.  So, every second counts.  Read on to learn about how safety professionals from a construction site and first responders can have a positive and efficient working relationship.  You may assume that by following OSHA regulations and/or building codes your covered if an emergency occurs.  But those documents really serve only as a starting point.  It is absolutely critical that a safety professional know how to repair a work-site to handle first responders.

Know the entry point (everyday!)
A building manager may not have to worry about access points as the entrance to a building rarely changes.  But, a point of entry at a construction work site may change every day!

Where is the emergency equipment?  
Wasting time to locate an AED or rescue gear can mean the difference between life and death.  Make sure you know where emergency equipment is located and how to access it, quickly.  Fire extinguishers, defibrillators, Stokes basket and any other first aid equipment you might have, need to be located in a place where it can be accessed quickly.

Have a current Emergency Action Plan.
The safety professional at the work site is the expert.  He or she has to be the one to modify and update the Emergency Action Plan.  There is no way for a firefighter or paramedic to predict what types of hazards or activities are taking place at a construction site.  Make sure you have this covered for the first responders, so they can do their job quickly and safely.   Keep a map or drawing of your facility current, so it can be handed to first responders.  It will help them navigate a busy work site and find access to needs like water.  Another great strategy is to invite your local first responders to the work site.  Show them around and do informal planning and training, so they are aware of challenges.  They may even be able to offer solutions for problems or point out hazards you were unaware of.

Allow your site to be used as a training facility.
If you are able, offer your work site as a training site for first responders.  The best training takes place in real-world settings.  So, offering your work site provides a valuable setting for training and allows local first responders to become more knowledgeable about your work site.

Have MSDS easily accessible.
By having MSDS sheets available, you can save valuable time in a chemical emergency.

It takes a team to respond to an emergency situation at a construction site, even if the team has never worked together before.  Safety training can help, as can advance preparation and communicating clearly.  Minutes count in emergencies, especially at construction work sites!