How to Plan Effective Workplace Safety Drills

There are many different things that companies can do to help improve the safety of their facility and their employees, such as installing photoluminescent tape or reminder safety signs. However, learning about and implementing industry best safety practices, for example, can do a lot to cut down on hazards within the facility. The fact is, that without workplace safety drills, all the safety planning is still really just theory.

Planning and executing proper safety drills will help your facility to identify which types of safety improvement activities are working, and where more work needs to be done. When executed properly, these drills can be a key tool in the continuous improvement of the safety in your facility.

When looking to perform these drills, make sure you keep the following tips and strategies in mind.

Planning Drills

All your workplace safety drills need to be well planned out to ensure they are not only executed properly, but also to ensure you can gather all the data you can about the drill. This data can be used to make further safety improvements and locate where potential problems could occur.

Some specific points of data that you’ll want to work on collecting include:

  • Time to Evacuate – Whether evacuating to a location outside, or to a specific part of the facility, you’ll want to know how long it takes to get everyone to safety.
  • Participation – In most facilities there will be at least a few people who either try to stay in their work area or their office until the drill is over. Taking a headcount to ensure everyone participates is a good idea.
  • Personal Protection Equipment – When holding a drill that requires certain people or areas to put on personal protection equipment, you should measure how long it takes for them to get it on, and whether they do it properly.
  • Shutting Down Machinery – It is often essential to shut down specific machines during safety drills (or actual emergencies) to ensure they are not operating when emergency personal are in the facility. Keeping track of which machines were properly shut down is very important.

In addition to making sure you are gathering the right data during a safety drill, you’ll also want to make sure the drill is planned out in advance. Some things you’ll need to do in the days before the drill include notifying the fire department so that they don’t respond to any alarms, and making sure key personal are aware of the drill.

You will also want to make sure you are planning all types of drills on a schedule so that people on all shifts experience them. This is why most facilities will plan their safety drills months or even a year in advance to ensure everyone knows how to respond to a real emergency.

Types of Drills

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You’ll need to make sure you execute all different types of drills to ensure your facility is prepared for anything. While almost every facility holds regular fire drills, and in many areas ‘shelter in place’ drills are common to prepare for strong storms. The fact is, however, that you’ll have to be prepared for many other types of issues in your facility.

Review the following list of different types of workplace safety drills, and then come up with a list that will work for your facility.

  • Chemical Spill Drill – In the event that a hazardous chemical is spilled in your facility, everyone needs to know what to do. This type of drill needs to include both the responses of the general employees, and the responses of any emergency cleanup or containment crews.
  • Fire Drill – Of course, fire drills are extremely important as this is one of the more common types of emergencies. Make sure everyone in the facility knows the best path out of the area, and where they should meet once they are outside.
  • Severe Weather – If there is a tornado, hurricane or other strong storm you will need to make sure everyone knows to get to a location within the building that is safe. Like a fire drill, people need to know where to go and how to get there.
  • Toxic Fumes – If toxic fumes, gasses or vapors escape their normal containment, people in the facility will need to know how to respond. Notifying the proper authorities is also important, and should be part of your drill.
  • Electrocution – If someone is being electrocuted in the facility, people should know how to respond. Hitting the emergency power shutoff switch (if one exists) and notifying paramedics. Making sure people know not to try to go in and rescue the individual is also important, as this could lead to additional victims.

Of course, every facility will have a different list of emergencies that they need to prepare for. Coming up with a list for your facility will require you to look around and try to think of every possible hazard that could take place.

Changes after Workplace Safety Drills

Once a drill is done, you will want to take some time to look through the data that is collected to see what improvements can be made. This should be done by the safety manager of the facility as well as any area managers or supervisors.

Remember, even small things can make a major difference when it comes to responding to emergency situations. Always listen to any suggestions regarding what can be changed and how to keep people safer during a hazardous situation.

Compare Results

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Once you’ve been performing workplace safety drills for a couple years, you will be able to start comparing results from one drill to the next. This is a great way to see where you are improving, and where new problems are coming up.

Make sure you keep track of what changes have been made so you can identify what types of things are most effective in your facility. For example, if you install safety signs that point the way toward evacuation points after a fire drill, you can see how much faster the next drill is performed. If there is a major improvement, you’ll know that these types of signs can be very helpful, and look into adding more of them.

You can also make small changes in specific areas of the facility to see how effective they are. For example, if you are thinking about adding glow in the dark floor tape so people can see the evacuation route, you can test its effectiveness in one area. If the data shows that it is helpful, you can add it to the rest of the facility.

Efficient Workplace Safety Drills

While the main goal of every safety drill should be to help make the facility a safer place to work, you also have to make sure your facility is running efficiently. This means you’ll want to make sure you aren’t scheduling workplace safety drills during peak operating hours or right after getting a major order in.

Also, make sure that the drill itself won’t be causing additional safety hazards. For example, if you have a fire drill scheduled for Wednesday but the weather forecast shows that a lightning storm is likely, you’ll want to change the date of the drill to ensure nobody gets hurt.

When done properly, these types of safety drills can be an invaluable resource for the facility, and the employees. They are one of the best ways to figure out what safety improvements are the most effective, and how to make further changes that will benefit the overall safety of the facility.

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