When there is a major disaster at or around your facility, there will be many things that you and your employees need to think about and do in response to the issue. Whether the disaster originated at your facility, or it is a natural disaster that happens to hit in the area, the most important thing to do is to make sure everyone is safe.
Unfortunately, when disasters strike, there is often a lot of chaos and confusion that takes place as well. This is why being prepared is so important. Most facilities practice things like fire drills, shelter-in-place drills and even how to respond to chemical spills or other related issues. What is often overlooked, however, is what people should be doing in the minutes and hours directly after the incident takes place.
One of the most important things that needs to happen is you need to check to make sure everyone is ok. This can be a difficult and time consuming job. To make it worse, you will undoubtedly have the family members of your employees calling to check on their loved ones. This is, in part, why a new feature from Facebook called “Safety Check” was created.
What is Safety Check?
Facebook has recently announced that they will be rolling a new feature out to their android, iOS, feature phones and PC users that will help people to let their friends and family know that they are okay after a disaster. The feature is triggered automatically by Facebook when a disaster strikes.
Anyone who is believed to be located within the disaster zone (determined either by GPS or your home city in your profile) will receive a pop up message on their device asking if they are safe. Each individual will have the option to either mark that they are safe, or that they are not in the disaster area at all.
If they mark that they are safe, it will make a custom post on their News Feed so that their friends and family can quickly see that they are ok. In addition, it will identify which of your friends are also in the area, and help you to keep track of which ones have completed the safety check, and which ones haven’t.
How can this help Workplace Safety?
It is easy to see how this can be a great tool for people to use to help keep their family updated during a difficult crisis. You may be asking, however, how it might help to improve the overall workplace safety during a disaster.
There are two main ways that your facility can benefit from the Safety Check feature from Facebook. First, you can take some time to let your employees know that this feature is available to them, and they can share the information with their family. This way, if a disaster does strike, everyone will know to keep an eye on Facebook for the status of their loved ones rather than trying to call into the facility.
This will help allow everyone in the facility to focus on what they need to do in order to get through the event safely.
The next way that this tool can be helpful is if you create a facility Facebook account, and have everyone working add you as a friend. This way, the safety manager or other individuals from the leadership team can quickly jump on Facebook to see who has checked in after the disaster. Since this account will only be ‘friends’ with those who work in the facility, it will essentially be a safety check in list that you can reference to make sure everyone is ok.
If you do set up an account like this, it must be made clear that the account will only be used during emergencies, and won’t be used to keep tabs on the employees. If this is not made completely clear, many employees won’t feel comfortable adding any work related accounts to their personal Facebook friends list.
Safety Check Training
If you decide to add this Facebook tool to your overall safety program, it is a good idea to provide everyone with the proper training on how to use it. The program itself is extremely simple, and pretty much self-explanatory. Where training may be necessary, however, is letting people know how the tool can be used for seeking help or providing assistance to others.
For example, if there is a disaster in the area and employee ends up trapped in an area of the facility because the ceiling caved in, he can check in that he is ok, but then post that he needs assistance.
They can post on their safety check in status that while they are uninjured, they are trapped in a specific area of the building and need help. Depending on the type of mobile device they have and the signal they are able to receive, they may even be able to use their GPS to post an exact location where they are. This can then be passed on to the emergency response teams so they can quickly find and rescue them from the area.
Equally important is making sure everyone knows that a Safety Check status is not the same as a normal Facebook post. People shouldn’t be carrying on conversations or making other casual comments on the posts, as this could become a distraction. Making sure that everyone knows to only be using the posts for their intended purpose will help ensure the system is able to be used as effectively as possible.
Is Safety Check Right for Your Facility?
As this feature is rolled out by Facebook, all facilities should look into it and decide whether or not it is a good addition to their overall safety program. Since it is a free feature from Facebook, it is likely going to be an excellent way to help improve the safety of your facility. In addition, the more employees know about it, the more they can benefit from it whether they are at work when a disaster strikes or not.