Lisa Pfeifer – OSU Ag Safety and Health Education Coordinator
When events happen like the recent attack at OSU it strengthens our communities and state if we can step back and analyze our own plan of action, learn, adjust and grow. Emergency action plans are often done in an effort to meet a workplace mandate then tucked away in a filing cabinet and forgotten. It is time to dust off those plans, take a peak at them, update the missing pieces, and make a concerted effort to open a dialog about the “what ifs” as they relate to your workplace, farm, or home. Focusing on what can make us stronger in the aftermath of events like these is a way to build some unity and provide assurance to employees. Workers and family members want to know what steps to take and who’s lead to follow if an emergency situation arises in their own workplace.
“Any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site,” is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) definition of workplace violence for today’s workforce.
Here are a few ways to prevent and resolve conflicts before they erupt into workplace violence:
· Establish a prevention and reparation policy against harassment and promote it within the workplace
· Write clear codes of conduct
· Provide awareness and training sessions
· Intervene in conflicts to ensure they do no escalate into harassment or acts of violence
· Open effective lines of communication
· Manage work teams to create quality relationships among team members
· Foster the acceptance of individual differences
· Encourage everyone to report any violent incidents
Workplace violence can escalate quickly, so the actions taken in the initial minutes of these types of emergencies are critical. Prompt warning to employees can save lives.
If you find your organization looking for guidance on developing an emergency action plan to cover not only workplace violence, but also a wide realm of emergencies, there are many resources available. The links that follow may provide helpful information for your workplace, farm, or home.
OSU has some great agricultural specific resources at the Agritourismready website, http://u.osu.edu/agritourismready/.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has designed a worksheet to get you thinking about the needs in your own workplace, however big or small your organization may be. Located at, https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/EmergencyResponsePlan.pdf.
OSHA has a section of their website devoted to Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool, at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/eap.html
The OSU Department of Public Safety devotes a page of their website instructing how to respond to an active shooter with a Safety Messing Toolkit link included at the bottom of the page. It can be found at, https://dps.osu.edu/active-shooter