Building an Earthquake Survival Plan for the Workplace

Many parts of the United States are at risk of damage and injury from earthquakes. This is particularly true in areas that are located in what the U.S. government calls designated fault zones, which means they are located in places with shifting tectonic plates deep underground. The majority of fault zones are located on the west coast, but there are also significant numbers of fault zones in the south and the Midwestern United States.

Even if you’re not located in a region that’s at high risk for catastrophic earthquakes, less powerful quakes can cause building damage and injury, so companies located in these areas should make an earthquake plan so they’re prepared in the event of a tremblor. If you own a business it is your responsibility to train employees so they are ready for when disaster strikes.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the key to surviving an earthquake and reducing your risk of injury lies in planning, preparing, and practicing what you and your employees and coworkers will do if it occurs.

Know the signs of an earthquake. If you’ve never experienced an earthquake, you may not be certain what’s going on in the first few seconds, which is important in terms of safety. You may feel a violent jolt followed by shaking to the point where it’s difficult to stand up. While an earthquake is occurring, you may also hear a roaring or rumbling sound that gradually gets louder. You may also feel a rolling sensation that starts out gently and, within a second or two, grows violent.

Designate safe spots in the workplace. During earthquakes, most deaths and injuries are the result of collapsing buildings. In an average building, some areas are safer than others, so ensure employees know to go there when an earthquake begins. These safe areas include interior walls with no windows or under a sturdy table or another piece of furniture. While outside is the safest place to be, it may be too risky to take the time to go outside until the earthquake is over.

Hold an earthquake drill. Consider holding a regular drill in the workplace so employees can practice earthquake safety skills in advance. Participating in an earthquake drill will help workers understand what to do (and what not to do) in the event of an earthquake. Experts recommend that when an earthquake begins, the safest thing to do is to drop to your hands and knees. This way, you’ll be safe from falling, but you’ll still be able to move effectively.

Create an evacuation plan. After the initial earthquake stops, there may be aftershocks to come. In between events, it’s wise for workers to exit the building as quickly as possible and assemble in a designated area away from buildings and walls.

Hire a professional training firm. Workplace safety consultants are experts in implementing earthquake preparedness plans. These consultants can help train your personnel on safety processes and compliance, and help you build a water-tight safety plan in the event that your workplace is affected by an earthquake.

In Southern California, Unishield has been providing businesses with the highest quality workplace safety training and compliance solutions for employers. In addition, Unishield offers first aid kits and medical supplies, first aid restocking services, industrial safety equipment, and portable emergency medical equipment such as the lifesaving AED (automatic external defibrillator). Call 800-480-5855 or visit our website for more information.

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