Read All of Rave Mobile Safety's Press Releases.

Recent Press Releases

May 5, 2015

Rave Mobile Safety Announces Smart911 4.0 to Provide Detailed Facility Information for Faster Emergency Response

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April 29, 2015

Attend the 2015 Emergency Communications & Response Summit Hosted by Rave Mobile Safety

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April 27, 2015

Smart911 and Quota International Inc. Team Up to Promote Enhanced 9-1-1 Service for Deaf, Hard-of-hearing and Speech-impaired

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April 17, 2015

Winona is First In Minnesota to Enhance Public Safety with Smart911

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April 14, 2015

Texas 9-1-1 Dispatcher Named National Winner of Smart Telecommunicator Awards

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April 14, 2015

Smart911 Expands Coverage of Life-Saving Service to Over 10 Percent of U.S. Population in First Quarter 2015

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April 13, 2015

Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Area Announces Smart911 as Enhanced Public Safety Service

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March 25, 2015

Smart911 Opens Online Voting to Select 9-1-1 Call-Takers in the Fourth Annual Smart Telecommunicator Awards

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March 23, 2015

Rave Mobile Safety Names One of Nation's Top Public Safety Officials to Advisory Board

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February 23, 2015

Smart911 Announces 4th Annual Smart Telecommunicator Awards to Recognize 9-1-1 Call-Takers

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February 18, 2015

Communities Across the U.S. Get “Smarter” About 9-1-1 as Smart911 Service Expands To Help Save Lives

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February 17, 2015

Belmont Announces Smart911 Service for Enhanced Emergency Response

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February 4, 2015

City of Decatur Replaces CodeRed Emergency Notifications with Additional Smart911 Features

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January 25, 2015

Forrest County Is First In Mississippi to Enhance 9-1-1 with Smart911 Public Safety Service

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December 11, 2014

Smart911 Helps Save a Life and the Holidays for Michigan Family

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Nursing Home Statistics You Should Know

December 3, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Nursing Home StatisticsNews reports relating to nursing homes most often concern adverse events that result in the avoidable deaths of residents. These can misrepresent the good work many nursing homes do. So, in order to put these unfortunate events into context, we have compiled a selection of nursing home statistics you should know.

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 76 percent of Americans aged fifty and over would prefer to stay in their homes as they grow old. Unfortunately, the reality is that the majority of us will require some form of long-term care outside the home before we meet our maker - the progression of care most often being: home health care > assisted living facility > nursing home.

In the United States approximately 1.3 million citizens live in nursing homes, of which more than 15,600 participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. These are certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), who conduct inspections every nine-to-fifteen months to ensure standards are upheld, or to investigate issues reported by the nursing home or a member of a resident's family.

It is not unusual for CMS inspectors to find issues during scheduled inspections. The national average of citations per inspection is 5.7 (excluding isolated issues resulting in minimal harm), which implies there are almost 90,000 adverse events each year. However, because of the way in which citations are graded, it is possible to determine only 3.2 percent of issues result in actual harm or place residents in danger.

The CMS Citation Scale for Nursing Homes

The CMS citation scale for nursing homes runs from A (least severe) to L (most severe) according to whether issues are isolated, form a pattern, or are widespread. The most recent analysis of inspection reports reveals the most common issues are usually isolated environmental or care safety deficiencies with the potential to cause more than minimal harm but not resulting in actual harm:

Percentage Distribution of Nursing Home Deficiencies
Source: HHS (PDF) Isolated Pattern Widespread
Immediate Jeopardy J = 0.3% K = 0.4% L= 0.2%
Actual Harm G = 2.0%
H = 0.2%
I = 0.0%
Greater than Minimal Harm D = 55.2% E = 28.6% F = 8.2%
Minimal Harm A = N/A
B= 2.2%
C = 2.7%

 

When issues are identified, CMS inspectors have several courses of action available to them. The most common resolution is a Plan of Correction, while Civil Monetary Penalties are only issued for deficiencies in Category G and above. States can issue their own fines - the level of which varies by state - and CMS can withhold Medicare and Medicaid payments or disqualify the facility from the healthcare programs.

The base scale of Civil Monetary Penalties is relatively small - ranging from $250 per instance per day for a Category G deficiency, to $5,500 per instance per day for a Category L deficiency. However, the base scale can be increased if there is a history of noncompliance with previous Plans of Correction, repeated deficiencies within the same Category, or a general substandard quality of care.

There Have Been Some Large Fines Issued

The website prorepublica.com maintains a “Nursing Home Inspect” tool, using which it is possible to identify nursing homes with the most citations and highest Civil Monetary Penalties. The results imply CMS standards and fines for deficiencies are not applied consistently nationwide - or that nursing homes in certain states are particularly negligent. From the database, you can see the number of offensives and fines such as the top ten here:

Nº of Deficiencies Recorded since 2011 Highest Rated Deficiency Total Amount Fined since 2011 Medicare/ Medicaid Payments Suspended
38 K $1,508,727 N
47 G $1,449,150 Y
36 K $1,258,368 Y
19 K $1,254,213 N
25 G $1,166,314 Y
75 L $1,134,150 Y
87 K $1,034,214 N
50 J $1,013,002 N
42 J $999,802 Y
45 L $884,712 N

 

Learn More: What are CMS Hospital Star Ratings and How Are They Calculated?

Putting Nursing Home Statistics into Context

If you multiply the average number of citations per CMS inspection (5.7), by the number of certified nursing homes (15,600) you arrive at the total number of citations per year (88,920). We know from the table above that 3.2 percent of deficiencies result in actual harm or place residents in danger, and 3.2 percent of 88,920 is 2,845 adverse incidents per year out of a nursing home population of 1.3 million.

This means a nursing home resident has a 1-in-457 chance of being injured or placed in danger due to an environmental or care safety issue, which - compared to life outside a nursing home - isn't bad odds. According to online insurance firm esurance.com, there is a 1-in-366 chance of being injured in an automobile accident for every 1,000 miles traveled.

Therefore, despite click bait headlines and significant Civil Monetary Penalties for isolated incidents, our nursing home statistics demonstrate residents are generally in safe hands and well cared for. Avoidable adverse events can happen with unfortunate consequences; but, in general, nursing homes are much safer, caring environments than they are sometimes made out to be.

How Technology Can Help Nursing Home Staff Stay Focused on Patient Safety

Staffing call outs, severe weather, influx of patient activities, all of these elements can have an impact on nursing home staff. And communication is key during all of these critical events. A mass notification system equipped to not only communicate these events but solicit feedback such as staff available to cover shifts, could truly make a difference. 

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How to Use Mass Notification With A Remote Workforce

December 3, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

airport In the United States, freelancers are projected to make up the majority of the workforce by 2027, as more companies embrace flexible work schedules, according to a study conducted by the Freelancer’s Union. The rise of remote work can be attributed to many different factors, including recent studies showing remote employees can be more productive and engaged in their work, how IoT is merging living and workspaces, and the ability to keep an employee on-call for customers due to flexible scheduling, according to Fast Company. In order to manage employees working in remote locations, office managers must create an open and effective communication system. The system should include safety protocol, and when attempting to reach a remote workforce during an emergency, a mass notification can be a powerful tool. 

Companies hoping to prioritize employee safety while taking advantage of a remote workforce should begin with a comprehensive remote work policy. The first step in creating a remote work policy is determining who on your team can benefit from a remote-work, and if these individuals will need additional training or resources for success. Before establishing a remote work-force, be sure to consult with Human Resources, as well as legal and finance teams, to create an official policy to ensure that remote workers will know who to reach out to with any questions or concerns. 

It’s also important to consider how remote work will impact collaboration, and which tools can continue to ensure that all employees are capable. Finding the appropriate tools for communication is often a priority for remote workers, as being out of reach is one of the main issues managers struggle with for remote teams. These tools can include video conferencing software or hardware, equipment to maintain a home workspace, meeting spaces in-office where remote workers can be seen or heard, and of course, a mass notification system to keep employees informed of any emergency or important company news. 

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Manage cybersecurity concerns by providing workers with a VPN or any other relevant technology in case their system needs an additional layer of security to protect data. In addition to virtual security, it’s important for employees to be included in standard workplace safety procedures and training. Emergency communication is critical - in an era where workplace concerns can include a variety of issues, from a hurricane evacuation to an active assailant on campus, all workers will appreciate the extra layer of physical security a mass notification system can provide.  

How Mass Notification Can Improve Remote Employee Communication

Employees will only opt for a remote option if everyone feels valued and included, and especially if half the team works in-office, creating a strong communication strategy is critical. During a transition period, a mass notification system can provide a simple way to provide newly-remote employees with updates from the office. Managers can make decisions about how frequent to make notifications - the system can be leveraged during an emergency, but it can also be utilized to keep employees in the loop, including dates about major company-wide meetings or holiday events. 

By keeping employees up-to-date on company-planning, managers can further ensure that remote workers feel included. The system allows for a more connected workplace community overall, which will be even more important as the rate of remote work continues to rise and more employees are an outside-of-the office. The employee notification database on a versatile mass notification system can be divided into groups to account for employee’s role, location, or specific interests. Employees can choose groups they belong to and how often they receive alerts via a company-branded web portal, provide the company with specific information that may be relevant during an emergency, and request messages be received in any language. 

Related Blog: Workplace Safety is a Growing Concern in the Gig Economy

Corporate managers can leverage mass notification to communicate with workers throughout a variety of potential emergency situations, from dire situations such as an active assailant on-site or a severe weather emergency to smaller incidents, such as power outages at the corporate office or routine facilities management. If there is any health or safety concern in the workplace, it’s important to include remote workers, to avoid confusion or prevent a worker from interrupting emergency response. During a severe weather event, it’s also critical that remote workers are contacted, keeping these employees informed of any changes in scheduling or evacuation orders. Employers can leverage mass notification to go an extra step for worker safety, and contact employees throughout the storm  

How SMS Opt-In Can Improve Remote Workforce Communication 

When evaluating which mass notification system is most suitable for managing remote employee communications. An SMS Opt-In feature makes it easy for employees, contractors, and visitors to sign up for temporary or long-term notifications. SMS Opt-In for mass notification can be a critical feature for effective communication with employees who work off-site. Members of a corporate community, including remote workers, can opt-in to receive alerts using SMS and a keyword unique to your organization.

Related Blog: What is SMS Opt-In for Mass Notification Systems?

Managers can use a keyword for multiple events and have multiple keywords for one event. For many remote workers, flexibility is a major draw, and SMS Opt-In can help tailor a mass notification system for this work style. Set-up and management of the system is simple, and multiple features enable managers to reach out to remote employees, such as the ability to make public lists in which any visitor may opt-in or private lists that prioritize internal communications.

A mass notification system can also help a company conduct remote employee wellness checks during an emergency.  For example, GE Appliances conducted wellness checks for remote employees throughout the 2017 hurricane season. Managers leveraged a mass notification system to provide timely updates to contact workers via SMS text and email two times per day, and requiring employees to respond that they were safe. By taking a proactive approach to mass notification system, company officials were able to monitor safety for numerous employees across facilities, including those in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico. The use case demonstrated how valuable a mass notification system can be during an emergency, no matter how spread out a workforce may be.

Business Critical Communication Solutions Platform

Shop Small: Small Business Saturday & Small Business Safety

November 26, 2019 Blog Author: Amelia Marceau

Small Business ShoppersSmall businesses have an integral role in local communities. They are the trusted shops that line downtown creating meaningful relationships with their loyal customers. They sponsor local sports team, schools and much more to fully emerse themselves within the community. The small retailers or Mom & Pop shops are owned and run by people providing for themselves and families. Shopping small makes a big difference for all those involved. Whether it is a coffee shop downtown or a retailer, shopping in the local community can have some great benefits.

What is a Small Business?

There are different definitions of a small business depending on which industry they are a part of. The most general definition of a small business is based on information from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which explains that small businesses are privately owned corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships that are companies with 500 or fewer employees.  

Businesses with fewer than 500 workers account for 99.7% employer firms in the United States.

When is Shop Small?

We all know the famous Black Friday, with incredible deals at large stores such as Best Buy, Target, and more. Shop Small, or Small Business Saturday, is Nov. 30, 2019 this year, the day after Black Friday. 

Related Blog: Black Friday Safety Incidents - Business Preparedness

Hosted by American Express, Shop Small encourages people to get into town and support their local businesses. Small Business Saturday is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving, sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday when everyone is looking for deals on holiday gifts.

The Impact Shopping Small has on the Community

Shopping Small supports local companies of all sorts. Shopping at a family-owned framing spot or buying a handmade ring from your favorite online small business helps to promote more vibrant communities.

Many towns will host events and truly encourage people to check out local retailers. Choosing to spend money within the community means it is more likely to stay within the community. According to American Express, for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community.

Some of our Favorite Shop Small Plans

  1. Montclair, NJ

The Montclair Center BID is giving out one-day parking permits to the first 200 people who show their same-day Small Business Saturday receipts at the BID tent.

Doing a little promotion like this can encourage people to stop downtown and visit retailers.

  1. Rochester, MI

Downtown Rochester is participating in Small Business Saturday. They have a few things planned to get shoppers into the area, the most rewarding being a prize of $5,000 if you take a picture of your receipt from a purchase made on the day.

There are also carriage rides and holiday lights on display. The area will be well prepared for holiday shoppers!

  1. Farmington, ME

Various book stores, florists, and cafes are offering special discounts to those shopping on Small Business Saturday. Everything from percent discounts to chocolate samples will downtown.

  1. New Albany, IN

Business leaders in New Albany stepped into the city to remind shoppers about Shop Small. The stores and downtown is preparing for holiday shoppers. Because there are less days between Thanksgiving and December holidays, store owners hope there will be high turnout.

Wherever you are, shopping in town can be a great experience and supports the local economy.

Small Businesses Have Similar Needs to any Large Sized Company

While smaller businesses have significantly less employees than most other companies, their needs are similar to any major corporation. Employee safety is just as important to a small business as it is to any business. 

Being able to quickly and effectively communicate with employees is always important. With winter weather upon us, for example, communicating with employees about shift changes due to snow and ice, power outages, and more, is extremely helpful in keeping employees safe and off the roads.

With emergency employee notifications, personal safety apps, employee check-ins, and panic buttons, you can establish robust security operations to protect employees and communicate with them during and after ongoing incidents.

Business Critical Communication Solutions Platform

Workplace Safety is a Growing Concern in the Gig Economy

November 19, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

gig economy workerWorkplace safety is always a concern for companies, as it is their responsibility to keep employees safe from harm. There has been a large growth of the gig economy in recent years, which has transformed the modern workforce and upended traditional models for developing both a workplace safety culture as well as worker safety training, according to Seyfarth Shaw attorneys.

So, what is gig economy? Gig economy refers to a general workforce environment in which short-term engagements, temporary contracts, and independent contracting is commonplace, Wonolo explains. Those who work for companies like Uber and Lyft, independent contractors, freelancers, and temporary staffing firm employees are all considered to be a part of the gig economy. According the Forbes, more than one third of U.S. workers are in the gig economy, which equates to approximately 57 million people. A huge number.

Related Blog: The Latest on Workplace Violence Statistics

How Does the Gig Economy Work?

When somebody does an individual paid task, assignment, or job, this is considered a gig. A gig represents just a small portion of a worker’s income as a worker is typically aggregating a variety of tasks for different clients or companies, which in turn makes their cumulative earnings similar to a full-time salary. Some leverage short-term gigs as a side job to earn some extra cash part-time.

Wonolo tells us, “the gig economy operates on technology platforms that aim to connect workers looking for flexible work arrangements with the companies who need them in a centralized location, such as an app or website.” Companies such as Uber, a ride-sharing service, are specific technology platforms that connect those who are Uber drivers with those looking for transportation. These niche companies can range from copywriting tasks, to dog walkers, to housekeeping tasks.

Blog-Quote-GigEconomy112019

Workplace Safety Hazards for the Gig Economy

The gig economy does not have the traditional employer to employee structure, as these jobs often don’t have workplace training or supervision. The new occupational hazards that have grown over the years has sparked labor groups, advocacy organizations, and state legislative bodies to concentrate their efforts to encourage gig companies to address safety risks in this changed environment. Some of the safety issues raised in the gig economy include the following, according to Seyfarth Shaw attorneys:

  • Transportation Incidents
    Many of the companies that currently exist in gig economy operate in higher-risk industries, such as the businesses that have transformed passenger transportation and freight delivery services. Workers are utilizing public roads and highways, which can cause a major risk to employees. Transportation accidents in general comprise nearly half of all workplace fatalities.
  • Lack of Training
    There is a serious lack of new-hire training in the gig economy as well as proper safety trainings, which causes workers to not have the knowledge and skills to perform their jobs adequately. Safety trainings should be necessary to ensure gig workers are doing their jobs safely. Gig companies should also provide their employees with the proper protective equipment they may need on the job.
  • Young Workforce
    As the gig economy is characterized by flexibility and independence many young workers are jumping on board. Because these younger workers have less experience, they also haven’t been exposed to many occupational hazards in the workforce. Creating a safety culture can prevent these less experienced employees from injuring themselves on the job.
  • Lack of Communication
    Many gig workers may not know the right people within their company to contact if they have safety concerns. Without knowing who to report safety concerns to, workers may choose to simply not report them at all. Making sure there is both solid and constant communication between gig workers and gig companies is key to making sure employees stay safe. Some companies have turned to employee safety apps to ensure the safety of lone workers, which may be useful for gig companies as well.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health have lobbied OSHA to make changes in the gig economy by enforcing workplace safety issues under a dual employer theory. “This would make the gig company responsible for safety compliance, even though the gig worker is not an employee of the gig company”, Seyfarth Shaw explains. They continue by recommending, “Gig companies should consult with counsel and safety professionals to learn how to address hazards and mitigate risks and liabilities.”

Related Blog: The Top 20 Workplace Safety Quotes to Engage Employees

Employee Safety Apps and the Gig Economy

When somebody leaves for work, they expect to get home safely. This applies to those working in the gig economy as well. One great way to ensure remote and gig employees stay safe is by implementing an effective employee safety app. This safety app can help gig workers with common safety concerns on the job and attempt to protect them from harm. An app with an emergency call button, safety timer, and geo-targeted push notifications can guarantee employers can keep in touch with gig workers who are in a certain location.

Employee Communication Solutions Guide

Why It's Not Too Early to Think about Workplace Winter Weather Preparedness

November 12, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

winter weather preparednessIf your workplace has been sweltering in the record temperatures recently experienced by much of the country, you may think it is a little premature to think about workplace winter weather preparedness. However, a “Polar Coaster” has been forecast for this winter, and it could happen sooner than predicted.

At the beginning of the month, more than a dozen Eastern cities from upstate New York to the Florida panhandle set all-time temperature records for October. Temperatures almost twenty degrees above normal for the time of year were recorded in many locations due to the jet stream keeping cooler weather to the North at bay - unless you lived in Montana.

Montana was setting records of a different nature. While temperatures remained below freezing for an October record of sixty-five consecutive hours, heavy snowfall accompanied by high winds caused property damage and power outages. Six locations recorded more than forty inches of snow, and the Greats Falls Airport recorded a temperature 13º lower than the previous October 1st record.

The Weather's Gone Mad, and it could be Getting Madder

Records highs and lows set simultaneously across the country are just the latest events in a year of mad weather that saw snow in Hawaii, a heatwave in America's northernmost town, and the earliest ever recording of a Category 5 typhoon in the Northern Hemisphere. Furthermore, according to the Farmers' Almanac, there is more mad weather to come.

The Farmers' Almanac is a 200-year-old publication with an uncanny history of accurate weather predictions. This winter, the publication is forecasting “so many ups and downs on the thermometer, it may remind you of a polar coaster”. Unfortunately, “ups and downs” means not only will the weather be cold, but there is also the risk of frequent flooding as ice and snow melts.

Blog-Quote-WinterWeatherPrepCorp102019

Everywhere except the extreme south-east is forecast to be colder than usual - particularly during the last week in January and first week in February 2020. However, events that have occurred since the publication of the winter weather forecast in August could accelerate the pace of change and bring colder weather to most of the country much sooner than predicted.

Could Lorenzo's Wayward Path Indicate an Early Siberian Express?

In late September, Hurricane Lorenzo formed off the west coast of Africa. At the height of its intensity, Lorenzo was one of the largest and strongest hurricanes on record; and, had it continued on its projected path, could have resulted in one of the most devastating hurricanes ever to reach mainland America. However, around 2,000 miles from the coast, it turned around and headed towards Europe.

The reason for Lorenzo's wayward path was that it had intensified into a Category 5 hurricane much further east than usual due to the Atlantic Ocean being warmer than usual. This made the hurricane vulnerable to vertical shear winds in the mid-Atlantic, which caused Lorenzo to break down and move north-west into cooler waters. The consequence was it rained a lot in Ireland.

Related Blog: Severe Weather Alert Templates Businesses Should Be Using

Although the avoidance of a severe weather incident is good news for residents and businesses on the Eastern Seaboard, the early formation and dissipation of Hurricane Lorenzo is not good news for people hoping to avoid a long, cold winter. One of the effects of the North Atlantic Hurricane Season is that weather systems crossing the Atlantic from Africa keep cold winds from Siberia at bay until January.

If future tropical storms in the 2019 Hurricane Season start forming and dissipating further east, the likelihood is we will see the arrival of the “Siberian Express” much sooner than usual - possibly as soon as the end of November. For this reason, and despite the fact the sun may shining at the minute, it is not too early to think about workplace winter weather preparedness.

What Does Workplace Winter Weather Preparedness Consist Of?

What constitutes workplace winter weather preparedness will vary according the location of each business and the nature of its operations. OSHA has produced a winter weather preparedness guide encouraging employers to implement safe working practices, while the Weather Ready Nation program is due to launch its Winter Safety campaign on December 1st. Let's hope it's not too late.

OSHA's guidance includes a section focusing on the importance of staying up-to-date with weather conditions during the winter and having a reliable system to communicate with workers - especially remote workers. With these guidelines in mind, we have prepared a Severe Weather Communications Kit to provide employers with information to help prepare before the next weather event occurs. 

The Kit is free to download and, if you subsequently have any questions, our team of safety experts will be happy to provide you with answers and arrange a demo of our corporate safety solutions in action. The demo will give you the opportunity to identify how our solutions integrate seamlessly with federal weather notification tools and help employers keep in touch with remote workers during the winter.

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Black Friday Safety Incidents - Business Preparedness

November 5, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

shutterstock_234105334Every year, people across the United States set aside the Friday after Thanksgiving to shop. On Black Friday, retailers offer reduced prices to commemorate the official start date of the holiday shopping season, and sales events can bring out major crowds. In November of 2018, about 71% of holiday shoppers made a purchase in stores or online between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to a survey by Deloitte. Even though online shopping has made Black Friday sales more accessible, hundreds of people still wake up early to line up outside of store locations, hoping to take advantage of sale prices. Major crowds can present risks for retail workers and managers alike, and in the weeks leading up to the holiday, safety incident prevention and preparation should take priority. 

The enduring appeal of Black Friday may have a lot to do with potential chaos. Consumers often enjoy the thrill of fending off other shoppers in pursuit of a deal, or enjoy the immediacy of picking an item off the shelf and bringing it home. For employees, the holiday can be a hectic, and even dangerous, experience. Over the years Black Friday crowds have resulted in numerous safety incidents for both employees and shoppers. Employers have the responsibility to put together a comprehensive business preparedness plan to manage crowds on the busy retail day, training employees how to respond to an emergency and hire the appropriate security personnel. 

Related Blog: How Cost-Effective are Physical Security Solutions in the  Workplace?

In 2008, an employee at Wal-Mart was killed on Black Friday when an “out of control” crowd broke down the doors of a store in Long Island, New York, according to the Guardian. Many workers were injured attempting to reach and help the man, and four other people, including a woman who was 8-months pregnant, get to the hospital. Following the incident, law enforcement reported the stampede of shoppers could not be subdued, even following the employee’s severe injury, and that the store had not taken proper security measures. In 2011, a similar incident occurred in Southern California, when a woman pepper-sprayed shoppers in Wal-Mart on Black Friday, requiring firefighters to arrive on the scene to treat over 10 people, as per CNN. 

Luckily, Black Friday incidents are on the decline, due to raised awareness about crowd-related risks and the rise of online shopping. However, past incidents, from out of control crowds to customers using pepper spray, employers should be prepared for worst-case scenarios on the major shopping day. Retailers can better manage lines of eager, early-morning shoppers and any potential safety incidents by taking a proactive approach to crowd-control and emergency communication. 

What Are Black Friday Risks? 

Black Friday sales have become more manageable for employees, but crowds and rowdy shoppers still pose risks. In 2018, Matthew Ishak, a 21 year old employee for Wal-Mart, reported that he broke up a fight between a man who punched a woman in the face over a TV, according to the Washington Post. Ishak’s story is not uncommon among seasonal employees - and training workers how to deescalate potential confrontation is a must. It’s critical that employees understand risks and know how best to mitigate a confrontation without putting themselves, or other shoppers, in danger. Being transparent and communicating with customers, whose fear of missing out on deals has largely drove chaos over the years, can also reduce the risk of confrontation during the major shopping day. 

busy store people shopping

Similarly, one of the biggest concerns for businesses is crowd control or management. Employers safety and wellness programs should offer guidelines for avoiding injuries during the holiday shopping season, especially on Black Friday. In 2008, Wal-Mart failed to properly plan the appropriate security ahead of the sale, which led in part to the tragic death of the employee working at their Long Island branch. Since the event, Wal-mart began collaborating with crowd management experts and law enforcement to keep shoppers safe, according to the New York Times.Safety planning for can begin long before doors open the day of the sale - with crowd management, pre-event set up, and emergency protocol. 

Among the common Black Friday risks, slips, trips, and falls, which are one of the most common hazards in the retail industry. According to the National Safety Council, falls from height or falls from the same level resulted in 29,830 injuries and 29 deaths in the retail trade. If in a region with inclement weather, Black Friday sales can increase risks, as snow or rain from boots or other winter weather, as well as dropped items, increase the risk of a collision. 

Given how falls are 100% preventable, it’s important for a business to review safety tips, such as wearing comfortable, practical footwear, be conscious of fatigue, frustration, or burn-out throughout the day, and remain aware of surroundings, especially potential obstacles or debris. 

How Can Business Prevent Incidents? 

Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues a safety reminder for retailers on holiday shopping and crowd management safety. In 2019, following a year where violent shootings took place at retail facilities, taking the appropriate precautions is more necessary than ever. “With thoughtful planning and implementation of an effective crowd management action plan and maintaining emergency exits free of obstructions, we all can have a safe and happy holiday season,” an OSHA memo to retailers read in 2014. 

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The OSHA “Crowd Management Safety Guidelines For Retailers” Fact Sheet focuses on crowd-related injuries which can occur during special sales and promotional events. OSHA recommends that employers planning a large shopping event adopt a plan which includes planning, pre-event set up, strategies for managing crowds during the sales event, and planning for emergency situations. Employers can better ensure safety on Black Friday by following tips from the OSHA Fact Sheet, but also throughout the holiday season. Find a few examples of OSHA’s safety and security reccomendations below: 

Planning: 

  • For Black Friday and any other day with a large crowd expected, hire additional staff as needed, as well as trained security or crowd management personnel and police officers on site 
  • Contact local fire and law enforcement to determine if the event site meets all public safety requirements, and ensure that all permits and licenses are obtained and that local emergency services, including the local police, fire department and hospital, are aware of the event 
  • Provide extensive training for workers on crowd-management and the emergency plan, provide an opportunity to practice ahead of time and include public service agencies in the drill 

Pre-Event Set-Up

  • Install barricades and rope lines that allow for orderly entry to the store 
  • Locate sales-items in different parts of the store to prevent overcrowding, and consider using an Internet lottery system for “hot-ticket” items 
  • Communicate any updated information with customers waiting in-line to prevent agitation. 

Emergency Situations 

  • Do not restrict egress, and never block or lock exit doors 
  • Keep first-aid kits and Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) available, and have personnel trained in using these tools on-site 
  • Instruct employees, in the event of an emergency, to follow instructions from authorized first responders 

Technology can also be a valuable tool for managing crowds during a Black Friday sale. A corporate safety app can help retailers engage directly with employees throughout the holiday season, providing, resources, safety assistance, and two-way communications. The app enables employees contact any department via text if needed, as well as receive geo-targeted push notifications throughout the day. 

Equipped with an emergency call button, employees will also be able to directly connect to 9-1-1 or security during an emergency. If a customer is becoming agitated or violent, the user can connect with security on-site or reach out to first-responders for medical assistance.The app will also provide first responders with location data, which can be critical during a situation with overcrowding. During an emergency, the app can reduce response time, further reducing the risk of employee injury. 

Corporate Safety App Guardian Demo

Ways to Enhance Hospital Preparedness for Mass Casualties

October 29, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

Hospital The case study of the tragic 2017 Las Vegas shooting provides multiple examples of how healthcare organizations can enhance hospital preparedness for mass casualties. One of the key takeaways is that the responses could have been much improved with better communication systems in place.

On October 1st, 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival from the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel. Within ten minutes he had fired 1,100 rounds of ammunition into the crowd - killing 58 people and wounding 422. A further 371 people were injured trying to escape the incident.

Emergency response to the incident was complicated by more than 22,000 concertgoers - many with life-threatening injuries - fleeing the scene in different directions. Most of the injured made their own way to area hospitals or medical centers, while paramedics treated those incapacitated by their injuries in twenty different locations across metropolitan Las Vegas covering four square miles.

How Nevada's Hospitals Had Prepared for Mass Casualty Emergencies

Since 2011, Nevada's Division of Public and Behavioral Health has maintained and updated a Medical Surge Plan (PDF) as part of its emergency preparedness planning. The plan aligns with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and National Response Framework (NRF) for all-hazard emergency planning, and outlines phases of activation, along with the role each entity plays in executing the plan.

Related Blog: A Day in the Life of a Hospital Emergency Manager

The plan is comprehensive inasmuch as it lays out the responsibilities for each healthcare facility, emergency service or law enforcement agency, local health authority, the Division of Public and Behavioral Health, and Nevada's Division of Emergency Management through the four phases of activation. The plan was often tested via drills prior to the shooting incident, and updated as necessary.  

The plan also explains which internal and external systems should be used for communications between paramedics, dispatchers, medical facilities, emergency operation centers, and incident command posts. Back-up systems are also listed for events in which - for example - cellphone networks are overloaded or Internet-based communications are unavailable.

Why Nevada's Planned Hospital Preparedness for Mass Casualties Didn't Work

It's not entirely accurate to claim Nevada's planned hospital preparedness for mass casualties didn't work at all. Indeed, many elements of it were executed successfully. However, due to the unprecedented scale of the incident, the case study of the Las Vegas shooting - “A Day Like No Other” - found multiple shortcomings and lessons to be learned. These included:

The Rate at in Which Victims Arrived at Hospitals

Medical facilities were totally unprepared for the rate at which victims arrived and the random nature of their injuries. At one stage there was a queue of cars a quarter of a mile long outside one hospital carrying both victims with life-threatening injuries and those that had suffered minor abrasions.

The Rate at Which Medical Staff Arrived at Hospitals

As news of the shooting spread, many medical staff arrived at their places of work to provide help without being called in. This was described by the case study as both a blessing and a curse as it raised concerns about staffing levels for later shifts. Excess staff told to go home reported feeling “unwanted”.

Hospital Environmental Services were Understaffed

While there was an excess of medical staff, hospital environmental services (EVS) were understaffed due to hospital call lists being primarily comprised of medical personnel. This created concerns about cross-contamination due to medical equipment being reused without being disinfected.

Both Medical and Non-Medical Supplies Ran Low

As the shooting occurred on a Sunday night, most medical facilities were at minimal Periodic Automatic Replenishment ahead of a delivery of supplies on Monday morning. However, it was not only medical supplies that ran low. Hospitals reported shortages of basic equipment such as pens and tags.

Call Lists and Phone Trees were not Up-to-Date

The Medical Surge Plan calls for healthcare facilities to update their call lists “quarterly or annually”. This created a problem with both internal and external communications because many numbers had changed or individuals had dropped their landline services in favor of mobile services.

The shortcomings and lessons to be learned were no reflection of the efforts of managers and healthcare professionals who did everything they could to tend for the injured and dying. Several individuals received bravery awards for treating victims at the site, while multiple events were held once the emergency was over to thank healthcare professionals for their efforts.

How Better Communication Can Enhance Hospital Preparedness for Mass Casualties

The case study dedicates a significant amount of space to how better communications could enhance hospital preparedness for mass casualties. In the context of the issues raised above, the case study notes there was no individual with responsibility for alerting entities to the shooting, the scale of the shooting, or the likely rate at which victims would arrive at hospitals.

Had there been a dedicated channel of two-way communication providing a reliable source of information, this could have helped dispel rumors multiple assailants were active and multiple venues were being targeted. It would have also helped overcome the issue of updates not being received due to multi-purpose channels being overrun by enquiries from law enforcement and concerned relatives.

Related Blog: How Denver Health Improved its Emergency Notification System

The issue of shift management could have been better handled by implementing an alerting system with geo-polling capabilities. This could have been used to prevent excess medical staff arriving at hospitals or to redirect them to other medical facilities that were acting as temporary trauma units. It could also have been used to call in EVS personnel or share supplies updates with neighboring facilities.

One further way in which healthcare authorities can enhance hospital preparedness for mass casualties is to implement a multi-modal communication system that synchronizes with personnel and other databases to ensure contact information is constantly refreshed. The system's communication database can then be segmented into groups according to role, location, or other attribute.

Healthcare organizations reviewing their hospital preparedness for mass casualties are invited to get in touch and speak with our team of safety experts about solutions to address the shortcomings and lessons to be learned identified by the Las Vegas shooting case study. Our team will be happy to discuss existing communication strategies and how the suite of Rave Mobile Safety solutions can help healthcare organizations better prepare for a mass casualty incident.

Universal - Product Rave Alert Healthcare

How Cost-Effective are Physical Security Solutions in the Workplace?

October 29, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

workplace security cameraA business can spend a lot of money protecting its property and personnel from criminal activities; and, depending on the nature of the business, some investments are more effective than others. We discuss the effectiveness of some common physical security solutions in the workplace, and suggest options to enhance their cost-effectiveness.

If your business is in the agriculture industry, it makes good sense to erect a perimeter fence to prevent criminals driving onto your land with the intention of stealing crops and livestock, and to stop animals wandering off-site. However, for most other types of business, spending money on a perimeter fence may turn out to be an ineffective use of a security budget.

In order to be effective against vehicle penetration and cutting, you could easily spend upwards of $24 per linear foot to erect a perimeter fence - which would not only require a high level of maintenance, but will also have a finite life depending on the environment. Furthermore, a fence eight feet in height can be scaled in seconds by a fit criminal, even if the fence is topped with barbed wire.

Therefore, for most businesses, perimeter fencing is no more than a boundary marker and should not be considered a security measure unless a risk assessment identifies the need for one. More practical solutions identified by a risk assessment would include alarm systems, CCTV systems, security guards, and panic buttons; but these may not be cost-effective in all scenarios.

Alarm Systems have Advantages and Disadvantages

Most businesses are subject to OSHA's fire safety rules and have a fire alarm system installed. It also makes good sense to have a silent intruder alarm connected to the local police department. Naturally silent alarms for emergency incidents that occur during working hours are of no benefit to a business because employees won't hear them and they won't evacuate or start lockdown procedures.

alarmIn some environments, audible alarms don't get heard either. This is due to a phenomena known as “alarm fatigue” in which employees are so accustomed to hearing alarms that they subconsciously block them out and ignore them. This tends to happen a lot in the healthcare industry, but is also an important safety consideration in the construction, mining, and casino industries.

Basic commercial alarm systems for small businesses start at $200 plus installation. There is also usually a monthly fee starting at around $30. You can customize basic alarm systems to act as emergency notification systems, but - depending on the complexity of the system and the size of the business - the cost can run into many thousands of dollars. Consequently you need to consider whether it is cost-effective to extend a federally-mandated fire alarm system to meet your business's security needs.

CCTV can Reduce Some Criminal Activities, but Not All

CCTV systems are proven to be a deterrent to criminal activities such as theft, but - according to the UK's College of Policing - they have no effect on reducing violent crimes. This is because most workplace violence incidents happen “in the heat of the moment” and CCTV systems cannot stop crimes when they happen - unlike security guards (covered in the next section).

The exception to “heat of the moment” workplace violence is active assailants who deliberately set out to kill or injure their targets. According to the FBI, there has been a significant increase in active assailant events in workplaces in recent years. Not only are these increasing in number in environments generally open to the public (stores, malls, gas stations, etc.), but also in environments generally closed to pedestrian traffic (offices, factories, etc.).

Year

Nº of Open Business Shootings

Nº of Closed Business Shootings

% Closed

2014

4

2

33%

2015

6

3

33%

2016

4

3

42%

2017

6

4

40%

2018

9

7

44%

 

Therefore, if you are considering a CCTV system to protect employees from workplace violence, you are likely to spend between $100 and $600 per camera (depending on resolution, indoor/outdoor, etc.) with the only benefits being the deterrent factor, a possible reduction in worker-on-worker violence, and increased situational awareness during an event involving an active assailant or other intruder.

The Jury is Out on the Cost-Effectiveness of Security Guards

With the average hourly rate of an unarmed security guard being around $16.00, it would cost in excess of $140,000 per annum to have 24/7 security coverage of a premises - per guard. If a risk assessment suggests you need armed guards to protect your business´s property and personnel, the cost per annum increases to an average of $188,340 - again per guard.

It has been said that the presence of a security guard - armed or unarmed - can have a positive impact on the customer experience in retail environments, and that a 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profits by up to 95 percent, so there's definitely a commercial reason for protecting your business's property and personnel with an armed guard - but is it cost-effective in terms of security?

The likely answer is yes if the presence of a security guard prevents an employee suffering a fatal injury; as, in 2017, the National Safety Council calculated the cost of a workplace fatality at $1,150,000. However, the presence of armed security guards did not prevent the high-profile school shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Santa Fe High School; so you have to consider whether the commercial benefits of this security measure justify the expense.

Related Blog: Keeping Employees Safe During National Preparedness Month and  Beyond

The Cost-Effectiveness of Panic Buttons Depends on their Type

Whereas a large team of security guards will better protect your business's property and personnel from active assailants, and reduce the likelihood of Type III worker-on-worker violence (attributable for 15 percent of workplace fatalities in 2014), employing a large team of security guards will likely cost millions of dollars and it will be difficult to calculate their cost-effectiveness because you can't measure the impact of something that doesn't happen.

A compromise solution is to use panic buttons that alert the business's security team to an incident that requires their presence - or, in the event of an active assailant, fire, or medical incident, that connects the business to emergency services. However, wall-mounted or desk-mounted panic buttons can be difficult to access quickly during an emergency, so the current trend in workplace safety is to opt for Bluetooth-connected wearables or panic button mobile phone apps.

Of the two technologies, panic button mobile phone apps are the most reliable because their effectiveness does not rely on the employee being within range of a Bluetooth receiver. Furthermore, when an emergency requires the assistance of emergency services, 9-1-1 call dispatchers are able to determine the location of the caller from their mobile phone signal, rather than the location of the Bluetooth transmitter - which could be on the other side of a building.

How to Enhance the Cost Effectiveness of Physical Security Solutions in the Workplace

Technology has made a big difference to the cost-effectiveness of physical security solutions in the workplace. It is now possible to implement remotely-operated emergency notification systems that not only alert employees to an emergency via their mobile phones, but that also integrate with existing alarm systems to maximize the reach of emergency notifications, and integrate with CCTV systems to enhance situational awareness from a remote incident command center.

Whereas most workplace emergency notification systems are populated by integrating them with employee databases, some solutions also provide an option for visitors, agency workers, and contractors to opt into the emergency notification system via SMS. Our Rave Alert system  has geo-poll capabilities that make it possible to contact specific groups of employees to check on their wellbeing or to solicit their availability to cover vacant shifts in order to facilitate business continuity.

To further accelerate emergency responses, Rave Alert can be integrated with the Rave Panic Button mobile phone app and Rave Facility - a module of the Rave Suite of workplace security solutions that provides 9-1-1 call dispatchers with information about the business premises to better prepare emergency responders. To find out more about these solutions, or to schedule a free demonstration of the Rave Suite in action, do not hesitate to get in touch with our team of workplace safety experts.

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Smarter Year-End Budgeting Solutions

October 25, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Balance

As the fiscal year-end approaches for many businesses, some departmental heads may be considering mirroring the actions of federal agencies and going on a spending spree to ensure budgets are maintained for next year. However, rather than waste money on toilet rolls and trombones, there are smarter year-end budgeting solutions.

The federal financial year runs from October to September; and, in the final month of every fiscal year, federal agencies go on a spending spree in order to prevent Congress believing they can operate on smaller budgets. In recent years, the scramble to spend what´s left in agencies' budgets has been chronicled by OpenTheBook.com; and among some of the more peculiar items recorded in 2018:

  • Six agency contracts worth a total of $799,220 were awarded for toilet paper
  • More than $4.6 million was spent on lobster and crab meat
  • The Department of Defense spent $163,636 on artists´ brushes and paint
  • In the final month of the fiscal year, $71,844 was spent on trombones.
  • The Executive Office of the President spent $119,265 on cameras and photos.
  • Federal agencies spent a combined total of $673,471 on golf carts - in one month!

Corporate America is a Little More Discrete about its Spending

Corporate America is not subject to the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, and can therefore be a little more discrete about how it spends “use-it-or-lose-it” budgets. It is highly likely there are some very peculiar corporate purchases made as the year-end approaches - although probably not on the scale of what federal agencies spend to maintain their budgets.

Nonetheless, rather than waste money on highly-unnecessary and low-quality purchases to reduce budget surpluses, departmental heads could be investing funds wisely on smarter year-end budgeting solutions that not only protect budgets, but also protect the business's most vital assets - its employees. No matter how much or how little surplus is available, there is an employee safety solution to match.

The Three Levels of Smarter Year-End Spending on Employee Safety

To help evaluate the value of employee safety solutions, we have compared the costs of implementing different standards of solution with everyday office commodities that departmental heads may be tempted to stock up on in order to reduce budget surpluses. None of the solutions cost as much as a medically consulted injury to an employee - which was calculated in 2017 to be $39,000.

  1. A Year’s Worth of Extra Office Supplies for 10 People = A Mass Internal Alerting System
    The average cost of office supplies per employee is around $200, but taking $2,000 to provide an extra set of pens, paper, and sticky notes for about 10 employees could instead also be used to purchase a basic texting and email alerting system to enhance communication with employees.

    A basic texting and email alerting system would enable you to deliver pre-drafted SMS text or email messages to employees for common company-wide occurrences such as office closures due to severe weather or an IT system outage. Because a basic alerting system requires the employee contact information to be uploaded and maintained manually, the system is most convenient for small businesses or for departmental team managers. At the end of the day, the convenience of being able to send a mass notification through email and text message is of extreme value.
  1. 2,000 Additional Cups of Coffee = An Employee Alerting System with a Data Management Tool
    Let’s assume that an average cup of coffee costs $2.50. You could choose to spend $5,000 on 2,000 cups of coffee, or instead, you can invest in an employee alerting system to enable better communication through text message, email, and voice.

    The $5,000 spent will also include an automatic data management tool to easily load and maintain employee information. The employee alerting system with the automatic data management feature will work with any size business and minimizes communication efforts for managers, especially during a company-wide event or during an emergency situation.

  2. 5,217 More Rolls of Toilet Paper = Fully-Loaded Alerting and Two-Way Communication System
    Another way to spend extra funds is on something that is non-perishable and that you know will get used eventually is toilet paper. An average case of 36 toilet paper rollscosts $69, which means an office could spend around $10,000 for an extra 5,217 toilet paper rolls.

    For the same price of purchasing 144 extra cases of toilet paper, a business could invest in a fully-loaded alerting system, including:
     
    1. SMS text, email, and voice,
    2. A SmartLoader system for employee data,
    3. And the option to integrate two mobile application tools, such as Rave Panic Button and Rave Guardian:

Rave Panic Button: During a critical incident, such as an unprecedented workplace violence incident (find the latest workplace violence statistics) or an employee experiencing a medical emergency, the Rave Panic Button app allows designated employees to report the incident to 911 and send a mass notification to all on-site co-workers with the push of a button.

-  Rave Guardian: Rave Guardian is a personal safety app that serves as added protection for onsite or traveling employees or even field workers who might need extra help along the path to their destination.

Use Cases to Prove ROI for Safety Tools

Here are real examples of businesses investing extra funds in safety and communication tools for their employees, and how the organizations are putting these tools to good use:

GE Appliances (a Haier Company): Performing Employee Wellness Checks

GE Appliances, a Haier Company, optimized their pre-existing emergency notification system to go beyond sending severe weather alerts. During Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the GE Appliances security team used their alerting system to deliver messages to their employees through SMS text and email twice a day, prompting them to confirm if they were safe. You can hear directly from the GE Appliances security team featured in this past webinar.

Hear a snippet: GE Appliances shares lessons-learned during Hurricane Harvey and the importance of being proactive.

Fluor Federal Petroleum Operations (Fluor): Simplifying Emergency Communications

Fluor Federal Petroleum Operations (Fluor) is a long-time user of the Intermedix WebEOC solution for incident management, but when it came to sending out mass notifications to their employees, Fluor faced several inefficiencies. Sending out notifications required the sender to take several extra steps between two separate systems, which is why Fluor decided to transition to a WebEOC-friendly alerting system. Learn how this change gave Fluor a $189,000 return on investment.

Year-End Budgeting Solutions Done Right

Employee communication will always be an important part of your business, especially as it relates to urgent notifications. Using leftover year-end funds toward implementing safety and communication-enhancing tools that enable you to quickly and effectively deliver urgent notifications through multiple communication channels will be well worth the investment.

Corporate SMS Opt-In Solution

4 Trends in Corporate Risk Management

Emerging Trends in Corporate Risk Management

employee notification at credit union

Employee Notification at Michigan State University Credit Union

The Top 20 Workplace Safety Quotes to Engage Employees

October 22, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

Quotes - Workplace SafetyWorkplace safety is top of mind. Businesses and companies are expected to provide a safe workplace environment free of known safety and health hazards. When a workplace is safe, employees feel more comfortable, productive, and are less likely to miss work. According to the National Safety Council, every 7 seconds a worker is injured on the job. That means 510 people are injured an hour, 12,600 a day, 88,500 a week, and a shocking 4,600,000 workers are injured every year.

In our 2018-2019 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Report we were surprised to learn that 30% of respondents were unaware of their employers’ emergency preparedness plans for common types of workplace emergencies. There were higher percentages of respondents reported that even though there were emergency preparedness plans in place, these plans for severe weather events, medical emergencies, and cyberattacks were rarely or never tested. So, what can businesses do to protect their employees?

Top 20 Workplace Safety Quotes to Engage Employees

Quotes can be a great tool help keep your workers safe and promote safety in the workplace. Displaying safety quotes on bulletin boards, using them in memos, and featuring them in employee newsletters on a regular basis can keep employees focused on the importance of workplace safety. LoveToKnow tells us, “The key to using safety quotes effectively is to find ones that help you get your point across in a way that will be particularly meaningful to your employees, as well as easy to remember.”

We’ve found some great quotes from both Safety Culture and LoveToKnow. Here are our top 20 favorite workplace safety quotes:

  1. “Safety brings first aid to the uninjured.” – F.S. Hughes
  2. “Do not think because an accident hasn’t happened to you that it can’t happen.” – Safety saying, early 1900’s
  3. “You don’t need to know the whole alphabet of Safety. The A, B, C of it will save you if you follow it: Always Be Careful.” – Colorado School of Mines Magazine
  4. “Carefulness costs you nothing. Carelessness may cost you your life.” – Safety saying, early 1900’s
  5. “Safety isn’t expensive, it’s priceless.” – Author Unknown
    Blog-Quote-SafetyQuote(1)102019
  6. “For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind.” – Eleanor Everet
  7. “Prepare and prevent, don’t repair and repent.” – Author Unknown
  8. “An incident is just the tip of the iceberg, a sign of a much larger problem below the surface.” – Don Brown
  9. “Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.” – Author Unknown
  10. “At the end of the day, the goals are simple: safety and security.” – Jodi Rell
    Blog-Quote-SafetyQuote(2)102019
  11. "Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands." – Jeff Cooper
  12. “Better a thousand times careful than once dead." – Proverb
  13. "Safety doesn't happen by accident." – Author Unknown
  14. "Work injuries and illnesses can affect every aspect of life for workers and their families." – Maine Department of Labor
  15. “You are your last line of defense in safety. It boils down to you.” – Kina Repp
    Blog-Quote-SafetyQuote(3)102019
  16. “Luck runs out but safety is good for life.” – Author Unknown
  17. “It takes leadership to improve safety.” – Jackie Stewart
  18. "Your employees learn by example. If they don't see you practicing good safety habits, they won't think safety is important." – Electrical Construction & Maintenance
  19. “One earnest worker can do more by personal suggestion to prevent accidents than a carload of safety signs.” – Making Paper
  20. "Obedience is the mother of success and is wedded to safety." – Aeschylus
    Blog-Quote-SafetyQuote(4)102019

National Safety Council: Injury Report

The National Safety Council released a workplace section of its Injury Facts database, which provides employers with trends and information on injuries according the EHS Today. “We are eight times safer at work than we are at home, but the data remind us that our workplaces could still be much safer,” said Ken Kolosh, NSC manager of statistics. “The numbers underscore the need for public awareness. We hope Injury Facts can help people understand the biggest risks to their safety and help employers understand where to focus their risk management efforts.”

Related Blog: Let the Games Begin: How to Gamify Safety at the Workplace

The new section includes these noteworthy workplace safety trends, which EHS outlined:

  • Women are disproportionately impacted by nonfatal workplace violence, with 70% of all assault-related injuries in the workplace occurring to females.
  • The construction industry continues to experience the most worker deaths, leading all industries with 959 fatalities in 2016.
  • Workplace injuries cost society $151 billion annually between lost productivity and wages, medical expenses and administrative expenses. The cost of a single workplace death is $1.12 million.
  • Injuries from falls to a lower level (48,060) and falls to the same level (141,600) are both trending down.
  • Overdoses from the non-medical use of drugs or alcohol while on the job increased from 165 in 2015 to 217 in 2016, a 32% increase.

Workplace Safety and Preparedness

Workplace safety is very important, no matter what industry. Although businesses and companies are required to protect their workers, it is also a moral responsibility to take care of employees. When somebody leaves for work, they expect to return home safe and sound. 

A safe work environment is a productive work environment. Employees should feel they are safe from workplace violence, natural disasters, fire threats, or medical emergencies when they step through the doors of their place of work. In late 2018 we conducted our second annual Workplace Safety and Preparedness survey in which over 540 surveys were completed by full-time employees across various industries in the U.S. The survey asked respondents about how safe they feel at work, and whether they believed their employer is prepared for an emergency.

Get your copy of our Workplace Safety and Preparedness Report today!

2019 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey

5 Tips for a Successful Joint Commission Accreditation Survey

October 22, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

healthcare joint commission accreditation surveyThe Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that “accredits” more than twenty-two thousand healthcare organizations and healthcare programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards and therefore accreditation is highly sought and - once achieved - highly prized.

Because Joint Commission Accreditation Surveys are rarely announced in advance, accredited healthcare organizations and those pursuing accreditation need to be permanently prepared for a surprise visit. In this blog, we share five tips to help healthcare organizations pass accreditation surveys.

Learn More: What are CMS Hospital Star Ratings and How Are They Calculated?

Healthcare organizations that achieve Joint Commission accreditation meet or surpass CMS’ standards for acceptance into the Medicare and Medicaid programs. So, although Joint Commission accreditation is not mandatory, many healthcare organizations apply for accreditation in order to prove they meet the standards required to receive payments from the federally funded programs.

What is a Joint Commission Accreditation Survey?

Healthcare organizations that apply to be accredited by the Joint Commission are inspected by trained and certified “surveyors” who are usually highly experienced doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, or other healthcare professionals depending on the services being provided by the healthcare organization. For example, if a laboratory has applied for Joint Commission accreditation, the inspection is carried out by a certified and experienced laboratory medical technologist.

During the inspection (or “survey”), surveyors randomly select patients’ medical records and use them as a roadmap to assess compliance with Joint Commission standards. The surveyors (there may be more than one per inspection) trace the patients’ experiences through their medical journeys by talking with staff who have interacted with the patients and the patients themselves. The environments in which the patients are cared for are also inspected to ensure compliance with relevant standards.

Once accreditation has been achieved, healthcare organizations have to self-monitor compliance with the Joint Commission’s standards and submit data every three months relating to issues such as how they treat conditions such as heart attacks and pneumonia. Repeat surveys take place at 18-36 month intervals, but healthcare organizations are not warned in advance when they will take place - hence the importance of always being prepared for a successful Joint Commission accreditation survey.

Blog-Quote-JointCommission102019

It’s Not Possible to Prepare for an Accreditation Survey

Because healthcare organizations never know in advance when a Joint Commission accreditation survey will take place, the only way to prepare for an inspection is to maintain the Joint Commission’s standards all year though. However, this is not just a case of “keep doing what you are doing” and preventing bad habits from slipping in. The Joint Commission’s standards change each year as the organization strives to improve the standard of healthcare across the country.

The changes are published each year in the “Survey Activity Guide for Healthcare Organizations” under the “What’s New” section. Also included in the Guide are details of the inspection process (which vary according to the services provided by the healthcare organization), the documents each organization should have ready to demonstrate compliance to an inspector, and a checklist relating to health and safety measures. It is important healthcare organizations read and fully understand each year’s guide.

It is also important healthcare organizations train staff on emergency preparedness, data security, and HIPAA compliance. During the inspection, surveyors will not only ask staff about patient care. They will also ask about such things as communications during an emergency (in compliance with CMS’ Emergency Preparedness Rule), intradepartmental and interdepartmental communications (i.e. hand offs), and access procedures for EMRs and other technologies (passwords, authentication, etc.).

5 Tips to Help Pass Joint Commission Accreditation Surveys

The following tips to help pass Joint Commission accreditation surveys might not apply to every type of healthcare organization in every circumstance. They are intended as a general guide that healthcare organizations can use to improve the likelihood of a successful survey and to achieve a better rating on the Joint Commission’s qualitycheck.org website.

Related Blog: How to Improve Hospital Patient Safety Grades

  1. Identify Discrepancies between the Guide and Current Practices
    Although the 2019 Survey Activity Guide is 120 pages in length, once you take out the areas that do not apply to your type of healthcare organization, it is simpler to identify discrepancies between the Joint Commission’s standards and current working practices. These discrepancies need to be remedied before a Joint Commission accreditation survey.

  2. Learn from Other Organizations' Failings
    Each year (usually around April), the Joint Commission publishes a list of the most frequently-cited failings from inspections during the previous year in its monthly “Perspectives” magazine. Often they have little to do with the standard of care provided by the healthcare organization, and are more likely attributable to the environment of care.

  3. Get Rid of Corridor Clutter
    In the event of an emergency, corridor clutter not only makes it harder to move patients, it can also hinder emergency response. The Joint Commission acknowledges that some medical equipment needs to be permanently accessible, but inspectors have previously found items such as laundry baskets obstructing corridors for hours.

  4. You Never Get a Second Opportunity to Make a Good First Impression
    In the Survey Activity Guide, a significant amount of attention is given to how an inspector should be greeted, how he or she should be identified, and how he or she should be accommodated. Make sure your organization’s “welcome team” are up-to-speed with the current recommendations, and always have ready a clean, Internet-connected office space from which the inspector(s) can work.

  5. Keep up-to-date with Joint Commission’s Current Hot Topics
    On the Joint Commission’s website, there is a frequently updated blog which is a good thermometer of the Joint Commission’s current “hot topics”. Recently the blog has covered such topics as improving health and safety in healthcare workspaces and protecting staff from workplace violence - implying that employee wellbeing may be incorporated into next year´s standards.

Improve Communication and Protect Employees

Throughout the Survey Activity Guide, there are many references to the importance of having good communication systems in place - not only for professionals to collaborate of patient care, but also for healthcare organizations to comply with CMS’ Emergency Preparedness Rule. There will likely be more emphasis on communications if employee wellbeing is incorporated into next year´s standards.

Rave Mobile Safety is a leading developer of communication solutions for the healthcare industry. Our critical communications and response platform can improve patient care and resource coordination, help healthcare organization meet CMS mandates and requirements, and help prevent workplace accidents and workplace violence in order to keep employees safe. Contact us today to find out more.

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What Do Hospitals Do During Severe Weather Event Closings?

October 15, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

large hospital storm responseIn September of 2018, Hurricane Florence hit land and forced hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities in the Carolinas and Virginia to either prepare resources needed to stay open or begin preparations to close, as per CNN. Each individual facility had to make decisions based on storm predictions and resources.

In Charleston, South Carolina, location determined whether or not a hospital closed, canceled elective procedures or appointments, or resumed operations as normal during the storm. East Cooper Regional Medical Center, for example, had to cancel elective surgeries, but kept emergency rooms open to accept emergency patients. Roper St. Francis Hospital kept a main facility open, but closed express care and physician partner facilities because they were unable to meet the state’s “shelter in place” requirements. 

During a major storm or severe weather event, hospitals must decide between conducting an emergency evacuation or opting to shelter-in-place. According to OSHA, the decision is among the most important safety managers will make during an emergency. The organization defines evacuation as the immediate and urgent movement of people away from the threat or hazard. Shelter in-place requires taking refuge within a facility, waiting for instruction that the severe weather event passed or an evacuation order is placed instead. This poses a difficult question for hospitals in the direct path of severe weather threats, as not only are emergency rooms meant to provide ongoing care regardless of time or circumstance, evacuating patients can pose significant health risks. 

Related Blog: A Closer Look at Severe Weather Preparedness at a Large Hospital

So, what do hospitals do during severe weather event closings? Procedure may vary between states, and in many instances, hospitals opt to simplify operations down to the essentials, remaining open in case of emergencies or injuries sustained during the severe weather event. Medical facilities in the direct path of a storm may be required by the state to close, and should implement evacuation procedure. In order to ensure a smooth transition, an evacuation and closure plan should be in place ahead of time, and safety managers should be sure to communicate with physicians and staff throughout the process. 

What Is Severe Weather Event Closing Protocol In Healthcare? 

In order to manage the risks of closing a hospital during a severe weather event, communication is critical. When Hurricane Dorian hit North Carolina, residents at Ansonborough House in Charleston, which was built to provide affordable housing to seniors, were forced to evacuate, according to NPR. This example of a facility represents many of the challenges hospitals or healthcare organizations face during emergency closures, including logistical challenges such as managing individuals healthcare needs and financial issues, as providing reliable transportation for patients can be costly. Some of the residents at Ansonborough House struggled with a variety of chronic medical conditions requiring routine care, including people who need dialysis or chemotherapy, as well as medication to treat cardiovascular disease. 

For this reason, a major concern during a closure or evacuation should be vulnerable residents who cannot be relocated to natural disaster shelters. In 2017, a study titled “Mortality in Nursing Homes Following Emergency Evacuation” found that moving older, frail patients can be bad for health, and safety managers should take medical conditions into transportation and shelter preparations.

Related Blog: What are Common Communication Systems in Healthcare?

During Hurricane Florence, patients at Tidelands Waccamaw, Tidelands Georgetown, and Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Hospital were forced to evacuate. Patients moved to other hospitals in the area via ambulance, medical bus, or by helicopter, as per CNN. Physicians accompanied patients to ensure they received appropriate care, while a “skeleton crew” rode out the storm at two locations along with patients too sick to evacuate. 

If safe, a small crew at a hospital location during a closure can monitor patients unable to make the move. If possible, these patients and physicians will move to an area of the facility that is storm-proof. After a storm passes, the physicians and staff managing operations can help the facility resume operations as swiftly as possible. Physicians should collaborate with safety managers to make the best judgement about who is capable of moving to another facility, which mode of transport is most appropriate, and whether or not staff can shelter-in-place throughout the storm.

Unfortunately, many of the regions susceptible to Atlantic hurricanes are also popular retirement locations, meaning there’s a large population of older adults. Even more troubling, slow-moving, wet storms are becoming more common amid climate change, which can be particularly frustrating for hospitals, as they linger for days increasing financial, physical, and emotional tax, according to NPR.  

Provide advance warning if a hospital or healthcare closure seems likely. If residents need to set up an appointment, seek care ahead of a storm or before an evacuation order is issued is ideal. Make sure residents understand how to check the website for the facility they're going to first, or call ahead, as circumstances can change quickly during a severe weather emergency and it may not be possible to seek care at certain locations. If safety managers communicate closures and evacuations to residents as quickly as possible, they will be able to prepare if they need to be admitted to a hospital or other healthcare facility. 

How To Communicate Hospital Closure Protocol

During Hurricane Florence, Medical University of South Carolina used a mass notification system to communicate with over 23.000 community members as the severe weather event developed. During the severe weather event, which eventually became a tropical storm, all members of the community, including students, faculty, hospital officials, doctors, nurses, students on hospital rotation, employees working at the campuses’ various clinics or practices, and contracted employees, received updates throughout the storm. The campus focused on transportation - since the main campus was on the Charleston Peninsula, the community was able to find out which buses or shuttles were running or delayed due to flooding, which further helped the hospital and university continue to provide service throughout the severe weather event. 

During a storm, wildfire, or other severe weather event, safety managers should communicate to residents any changes in healthcare availability. Often, traveling to seek care may be risky and it is critical people only seek hospital care during a storm in true emergencies. It’s also important for health care providers to plan ahead with patients, physicians, and staff to keep monitoring the right. A mass notification system can be a powerful tool for hospitals to manage both internal and external emergency communications, as demonstrated by MUSC during Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Florence Mass Notification

5 Ways You Didn't Know How to Alert Employees in an Emergency

October 15, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

mass notification person using cell phoneMost businesses are aware the five most common ways of how to alert employees in an emergency are fire alarms, PA systems, SMS alerts, digital signage, and pager systems. However, not every business is aware of the full potential of these systems and how they can be used to better alert employees in an emergency.

The Most Effective Way to Alert Employees: Mass Notifications

When a disaster or threat strikes, communicating with your employees is the most efficient way to get the word out, whether the office is closing due to a power outage or there is an active assailant on the premises. Mass notification systems can quickly get information to employees via SMS, email, phone call, and more, which could ultimately save a life. You can implement systems that integrate with each other to cover almost every eventuality, but sometimes even the broadest mass notification approach isn’t 100 percent effective.

Aware of this, some mass notification platforms have been designed with additional capabilities. These capabilities are not new methods of contacting employees, because there’s a reason why the five most common ways of how to alert employees in an emergency are the five most common - they work. Instead, these capabilities can increase the effectiveness of emergency alerts sent via existing systems.

Related Blog: Could Your Business Answer “Yes” to Eight or More Emergency  Preparedness Questions?

5 Ways You Didn’t Know How to Alert Employees in an Emergency

1. Multi-Lingual Emergency Alerts

When selecting a mass notification system, a great option to look for among the messaging preferences is a multi-lingual feature. This gives employees an opportunity to select the language in which they would like to receive emergency alerts. For an employee whose first language is not English, this way of alerting employees in an emergency could make the difference between them understanding the alert or not.

2. Social Media Emergency Alerts

It is hard to conceive a scenario in which, with alarms sounding and digital signage flashing, an employee would refer to their Facebook page to find out what’s going on; but there is a benefit of sending emergency alerts to employees via social media inasmuch as it is possible to place a link on a social media post to a webpage which explains the procedures for dealing with each type of emergency.

Naturally, there are some emergencies - i.e. a cyberattack - in which a social media post would not be appropriate. Nonetheless, a link to a webpage illustrating evacuation routes or the location of emergency supplies could be invaluable to a new employee who has not undergone emergency preparedness training, or to a temporary worker unfamiliar with the layout of the premises.

3. Short-Form & Long-Form Alerts

There are times when limitations on the number of characters allowed mean it is not possible to communicate the full details of an emergency in an SMS alert. You could include a tiny URL in the SMS alert that takes employees to an explanatory webpage similar to as mentioned above, but this may not be of any benefit to an employee with an older 3G mobile device or small screen phone.

Choosing an emergency notification system that allows administrators to prepare templates in both short-form and long-form formats is extremely helpful. Short-form alerts can be sent via SMS, while long-form alerts can be sent by email, so that an employee with an older 3G device or small screen phone can access their emails to read more about the emergency, the best evacuation route, or the location of emergency supplies.

4. Alerting Employees in Sequential Order

Depending on the nature of the emergency, it may not be appropriate to send a mass alerts to every employee simultaneously. The option to segment employee databases by role, location, or other attribute means that businesses can alert just those groups of employees who are affected by the emergency; or, in a developing event, evacuate in stages rather than en masse.

Being able to alert employees in an emergency sequentially or in groups can mitigate business disruption and help businesses recover quicker from an incident. Scenarios in which this capability might be put to use include alerting employees in one part of a business campus to a fire, or ordering a lockdown in some buildings due to an active assailant while ordering an evacuation in other buildings.

5. Alerting Employees Remotely

Even though businesses can alert employees in an emergency with two clicks of a mouse, having a remote option gives administrators the opportunity to send alerts safely from a mobile device away from their desktop computers. It also gives incident managers the opportunity to send updates remotely during an emergency, or sound the all clear.

The remote way to alert employees in an emergency can save employees time and money as well as enhancing their safety. For example, if a business was to experience a cyberattack overnight, a system administrator could log into their mass notification platform from their home and advise employees not to commute to the workplace or log into corporate accounts remotely until the attack is resolved.

Can You Think of Further Ways How to Alert Employees in an Emergency?

If you can think of further ways how to alert employees in an emergency, we would love to know. Rave Mobile Safety is always striving to improve our own Rave Alert platform in order to save businesses time and money, and ultimately save employees’ lives.

If you’re interested in trying out the Rave Alert platform, which includes the above features and capabilities, please consider signing up for our free trial option.

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Let the Games Begin: How to Gamify Safety at the Workplace

October 8, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

gamification workplace safetyWe’re all too familiar with the safety trainings businesses across the United States require employees to take annually. They can range from workplace bullying and safety to active shooter trainings to cybersecurity to sexual harassment. Although they’re all important and necessary trainings, they may not be a priority during a busy work day and can be considered relatively boring. As an employer, you are responsible for the health and safety of your workforce which means you must provide information, instruction, and training to guarantee everybody stays safe.

The Importance of Workplace Safety Training

Depending on what kind of company you work for there could be many more required trainings necessary to ensure employee safety. For example, the construction industry has OSHA required trainings that must be upheld, as workers are exposed to more safety and health risks on the job when compared to the risks you may see at a corporate desk job.

Related Blog: 4 Ways to Use Mass Notification to Promote Workplace Safety

Hazards are unescapable to all industries, which is why it’s essential for any organization to make provisions for safety trainings and update safety programs on a regular basis. The main goal of safety training is to keep employees safe from injury, illness, or death.

There are many other benefits of workplace safety trainings, which include the following from Tutorials Point:

  • Educate employees on the basics of health and safety
  • Increased focus by employees on their tasks
  • Increased job pleasure and confidence among employees
  • Increased employee inspiration
  • Increased effectiveness in processes, deriving in financial gain
  • Increased ability to adopt new skills and methods
  • Increased change in scheme and products
  • Decrease in employee turnover
  • Increase company image, e.g., conducting ethics training
  • Risk management, e.g., training about sexual harassment, diversity training.
  • Increased productivity and satisfaction among personnel by keeping the workplace safe

Workplace Safety Training and Gamification

Although the benefits are clearly noted above, workplace safety trainings can often be quite lengthy and dull to get through. This is where gamification come in. Insured Solutions Inc. explains, “Gamification is the concept of motivating employees or making learning more fun by turning it into a game.” Taking the sometimes-boring workplace safety trainings and turning them into more of a game can make it fun for employees to get through the mandatory tests and quizzes while still learning and staying up-to-date on workplace safety.

Related Blog: The Latest on Workplace Violence Statistics

There are some simple ways to gamify workplace safety. Below are a few examples your company could implement:

  1. Creating a Points System
    Although this is a simple resolution, it’s one that works. Creating a points system means awarding employees with points when they do things in a certain way. Applying this to workplace safety could include offering workers points for completing safety trainings, reviewing workplace safety standards, and participating in workplace safety evaluations.

  2. Team Based Performance
    Encouraging your team to reach a certain number of days without a safety hazard or incident is a good way to get everybody involved in workplace safety together. To gamify, Insured Solutions Inc. recommends having your team compete against their last performances, or earn badges for milestones along the way.

  3. Tracking Goals
    Every business has certain safety goals and gamification can help you reach them. For example, consider creating safety targets as opposed to sales targets which can be rewarded within your game.

  4. Rewarding Safety Education
    Online workplace safety quizzes and evaluations can be tedious, but gamifying them by allowing employees to win tokens to apply or redeem for a prize is a good way to ensure your employees are making an effort to learn about workplace safety.

Gamification can be successfully implemented in the workplace by rewarding employees for educating themselves on safety hazards as well as preventing safety incidents.

Gamification Technology

Technology is continually changing and improving as time moves forward. Simcoach Games is a company that is gamifying workplace trainings for companies in the manufacturing and construction fields. With many workplace injuries occurring in these industries due to the higher risks employees face, this company has come up with easy games to help those individuals prepare for the hazards they could encounter.

Enhesa explains one of the games, Harness Hero, was designed to reduce the significant number of construction injuries and deaths that are caused by falls. “The game is designed with short lengths of play, a series of challenges, and best of all for employers, tests to see if the player is learning. At the end of each mission, after the player has inspected the digitized equipment for flaws, the digital worker is pushed off a digital building. If the player did well, the digital worker is saved. If not…well, this is the great thing about digitizing occupational health and safety training: while the player gets to test themselves on their real life-saving knowledge with real scenarios presented to them, there is no risk of bodily harm.”

Making mistakes in a virtual place can help employees understand how important the safety procedures are in protecting them day-to-day. Employers also have the ability to track the progress of their employees as they learn and practice safety procedures, and address those who are not advancing to moderate safety concerns before they move from the digital space to the workplace.

Workplace Safety Technology

Mass notification systems and anonymous tip software are two other technologies that can improve workplace safety in case of an emergency. Sending out alerts to employees including incident updates and instructions on how to respond to an emergency helps workers stay informed and up-to-date on workplace safety procedures. Employees can utilize anonymous tip software to inform others of safety hazards or coworkers who may be a safety hazard themselves.

Communication is key in case of an emergency, and key to keeping employees safe. Check out our 2019 report below to learn how companies are preparing for workplace safety with technology.

2019 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey

What Should Your Office “Go Bag” Contain for Emergencies?

October 1, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

office emergency kitThe recommended contents of an office go bag can vary according to the location of your workplace, how you commute to work, and the distance between your workplace and your home. The nature of the contents can also be influenced by your safety role in the business or in the community.

According to the Department of Homeland Security's “Ready” campaign, you should keep “go bags” (also known as “grab bags”, “bug out bags”, or “survival kits”) in your home, in your car, and in your workplace because you never know where you will be when an emergency occurs. The Department's “Build a Kit” web page provides valuable information about what a basic go bag should consist of, plus lists additional supplies to consider if you have pets, children, or elderly family members.

Unfortunately, it is not practical to keep every recommended item in an office go bag. Not only might the bulk of so many items hinder your escape in a mass workplace evacuation (especially if colleagues are trying to evacuate with their own bulky go bags), it may also be difficult to store a number of large go bags in an office environment. Consequently, we have compiled a list of considerations to take into account when putting together a personal go bag for your workplace.

What Emergencies are You Preparing For?

Different parts of the country experience different types of emergencies. With regards to severe weather emergencies, the charity ICNA Relief has created a map (below) dividing the country into ten geographical areas according to the type of natural disaster each location is most susceptible to. With regards to man-made disasters, you should assess what threats might affect your workplace (i.e. environmental threats, criminal threats, infrastructure threats, etc.) and plan accordingly.

map

How you commute to work and the distance between your workplace and your home will also affect what items go into your office go bag. If you drive to the office, and your car is parked a few paces outside the office building, you can place more items into your car go bag and fewer into your office go bag - taking into account a “stay-in-place” order during an environmental disaster or long-term hostage situation that might not be resolved within twenty-four hours.

Even if you commute to work using public transport, it may be possible to put fewer items in your office go bag if your home go bag is less than one hour's walk away. In this case, comfortable walking shoes may be essential, as might be a map and compass if you are unfamiliar with the route. It may not be possible to rely on your smartphone's mapping system if there is a widespread power outage, but uploading a torch app onto your smartphone will save you packing a torch in your go bag. 

Why Your Safety Role May Make a Difference

If you have been assigned the role of a workplace safety officer or are a member of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the contents of your office go bag might be a lot different from those of your colleagues. Depending on your business's emergency preparedness plan, you may have the responsibility for organizing emergency response, ensuring the wellbeing of colleagues, liaising with emergency responders, and communicating with state and local public health departments.

Related Blog: Keeping Employees Safe During National Preparedness Month and  Beyond

In this scenario, it is recommended to have more than a basic smartphone in your office go bag. You will likely need something more advanced (i.e. a latest generation tablet or iPad) plus a spare power supply or a solar-powered charger with a high Wh output. Spare power supplies and solar chargers are not particularly expensive, but they will take up space in your go bag which might mean sacrificing other items. It is not advisable to keep important communication tools in your car.

If you are a member of a CERT team, your go bag will be more geared towards helping others than self-survival. Depending on the requirements of your local team organizer, it may be necessary to pack a reflective vest, hard hat, heavy duty gloves, safety googles, and a fully-equipped trauma kit (rather than a first aid kit). Again, communication plays a big part in community disaster response, so it is recommended your pack also includes a quality mobile device and a back-up power source.

Good Communication Can Improve the Chances of Surviving an Emergency

In all types of emergency events, timely warnings and access to information can increase survival rates. For this reason many organizations use business emergency communication solutions to reach, engage, and protect employees when seconds count. As well as being a reliable mass notification tools, our solutions can improve situational awareness for incident managers in order that resources are prioritized for where they are most needed and where they will be most effective.

To find out more, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of safety experts will be happy to answer your questions and organize a demonstration of our business emergency communication solutions in action. The opportunity also exists for your business to take a free trial of our solutions to evaluate them in your own environment. To find out more, and to arrange your initial demonstration, contact us today.

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OSHA Issued Wildfire Policy For Corporations

September 24, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

firefighterIn 2018, California struggled to provide appropriate emergency response to residents during an unprecedented wildfire season. Multiple wildfire systems burned across the state, including the Camp Fire, which decimated the town of Paradise, the Woolsey Fire in the west of Los Angeles, and the Hill Fire in Ventura County, as per the New York Times.The 2018 wildfire season became one of the most destructive and deadly in California history, prompting safety managers across the state to ask new questions about appropriate wildfire preparedness, evacuation practices, and emergency response.

Amid climate change and the “new normal”, a comprehensive safety plan that accounts for wildfire risks is essential for any business in an area susceptible to wildfires. In November of 2018, OSHA issued a new wildfire policy for corporations to better protect individuals from health and safety risks, including how to implement appropriate evacuation orders and plan for smoke hazards. Cal/OSHA also formalized an emergency regulation titled “Protection From Wildfire Smoke”, which aims to protect both indoor and outdoor workers from smoke exposure. The legislation requires employers to check the workplace Air Quality Index, and communicate any potential risks to employees. 

According to the New York Times, although many wildfires are man-made, some wildfires have been caused by negligence from corporations. For example, back in 2015 a tree that PG & E failed to maintain hit a power line, sparking a fire that covered over 700,000 acres and left two people dead. In 2018, near Paradise, a live-wire broke free from an electrical tower that was well past use, which caused a catastrophic wildfire that destroyed nearly 14,000 homes and killed 85 people. This was the most destructive wildfire in California history. The company’s inattention to safety hazards emphasizes the need for corporations to understand and evaluate wildfire risks. By using best safety practices to look out for their own employees they will also be taking care of those living in the surrounding communities. 

Related Article: How California's Disaster Communication Plan Failed Residents  During Deadly Wildfires

Corporations are responsible for employee safety during any severe weather emergency, whether it is a hurricane or a wildfire. Employers are required to protect workers from anticipated fire hazards and deploy effective preparedness, response, and recovery practices. For employers, guidance is readily available on the OSHA website. No business is the same, which means each workplace is likely to have their own individual needs or challenges. Following a basic outline can help any corporation in crafting an emergency plan which complies with OSHA wildfire policy. 

What Is OSHA Wildfire Policy For Corporations?

OSHA guidelines encourage corporations to prioritize both preparedness or prevention measures, as well as have strong response and recovery plans in place. The OSHA website explains that with preparedness companies are able to put together comprehensive evacuation plans, establish safety zones around buildings, and invest in the appropriate equipment to have on hand should a wildfire occur. For response/recovery, the OSHA urges employers to understand the hazards in areas that are susceptible to wildfires. These include structural issues, such as building collapse or equipment operation risks, as well as health hazards, such as heat stress or respiratory distress. 

Evacuation plans are essential for corporations, and putting a plan in place before a wildfire occurs can further avoid confusion. OSHA recommends a thorough evacuation plan should include the following: 

  • Clear, communicable conditions that require evacuation 
  • Chain of command, and understanding of who will perform emergency functions. 
  • Specific evacuation procedures, including routes and exits 
  • Procedures to account for all employees, customers, or visitors 
  • Equipment is on hand for personnel to help evacuate if needed
  • Run drills and practice evacuations with employees often so procedure is clear and effective 
  • Update plans and procedures based on lessons or skills learned during practice evacuation 

Communication is key when it comes to evacuation procedures, and employers should leverage every tool possible to make sure that all workers know what to do in case of an emergency. OSHA also recommends taking additional preventative measures to minimize risk in addition to a well-established evacuation plan. Creating a “safety-zone” by removing combustible materials, in other words those items which are not fire-proof or safe, as well as removing vegetation around your business, can help further protect people and property. OSHA recommends a 30-foot safety zone. New call-to-action

In the days, weeks, and months following a wildfire, employers must make careful considerations. If an area is deemed unsafe, employers should implement practical changes to work procedures or schedules. This could mean changing the location employees work in or reducing the amount of time spent outside. If possible, modify the workplace to reduce exposure to toxic air-quality, such providing enclosed structures or vehicles with filtered air. Keep employees informed of the potential hazards following a wildfire, which can include, electrical malfunction, carbon monoxide poisoning, extreme heat, respiratory issues, or downed electrical wires. 

Cal/OSHA also recommends employers take particular care during wildfire clean-up. Risks for first responders and outdoor employees tasked with wildfire clean-up are high, and these continue long after the blaze is extinguished. Smoke from wildfires contain chemicals, gasses, and fine particles which can harm health. For this reason both proper equipment and training are necessary for worker safety in wildfire regions. OSHA offers recommendations for employers about how to properly utilize N95 masks, also known as disposable respirators, which can protect employees from a degree of respiratory distress. 

Leveraging Technology To Improve Wildfire Response 

Technology has and will continue to play a large role in wildfire response. In June, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California would partner with U.S. Department of Defense for wildfire response, which includes the use of drones and military satellites to detect and respond to fire outbreaks. California also made a commitment to better emergency communications during the wildfire season. In the past, the state has failed to implement effective notification systems, and many of the victims of the Paradise fire were unaware of evacuation orders or other potential risks. Officials in the state have also struggled to maintain an access and functional needs database, which lets first responders help vulnerable populations during a wildfire, such as the elderly or  individuals with disabilities. 

Related Blog: California Is Starting To Use Military Technology To Fight Fires

For employers, technology can play a big role in wildfire response. A mass notification system can be a powerful tool for corporations to communicate with employees during a severe weather emergency. The system can keep individuals informed of evacuation orders, changes to work schedules due to risks, and changes in the Air Quality Index, which will reduce exposure to harmful toxins due to wildfire smoke and comply with OSHA’s “Protection From Wildfire Smoke” Act. The system can take on a critical role during evacuation proceedings - not only can the tool communicate the risks and provide updates as the situation develops, it can also help employers communicate best-practices for evacuation to employees before the emergency occurs. This functionality allows employers to use mass notification to better prepare and train employees in areas where wildfire risks are high. 

A geo-poll system can also be a valuable tool for employers during wildfire season. The capability allows a business to perform wellness checks before, during, and after a wildfire emergency. Corporations can solicit requested information, such as whether or not an employee is safe from smoke exposure or their location, via SMS text, voice-call, or email. Poll data can be used to better target emergency response for employees, or to understand safety status.

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In Light of the El Paso Walmart Shooting, What Are Businesses’ Responsibilities to Protect Customers from Active Shooters?

September 17, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

busy store people shoppingThe El Paso Walmart shooting in August was the deadliest in the company's history. Twenty-two customers died, and a further twenty-four were injured in the tragic event - raising questions about businesses’ responsibilities to protect customers from active shooters.

On August 3rd, Patrick Crusius entered the Walmart Supercenter in El Paso, Texas, and opened fire using a legally-owned semi-automatic WASR-10 rifle. Twenty-two customers died in the attack, which was later described by the FBI as an act of domestic terrorism, and a further twenty-four were injured - some of whom have filed legal action against Walmart for failing to adequately protect customers. But what are businesses’ responsibilities to protect customers from active shooters?

Related Blog: A Growing Interest In Active Shooter Insurance For Business

The first thing to note is that businesses do not have an absolute duty of care to protect customers from hazards. This means businesses only need implement measures to protect customers if a hazard is “reasonably foreseeable”, and - should a reasonably foreseeable hazard or hazardous event occur - businesses have a reasonable amount of time to resolve the hazard or address the hazardous event. In this respect, Walmart appears to have fulfilled its duty of care in the context of the El Paso shooting.

Walmart’s Duty of Care and Response in El Paso

Some of the injured have complained the El Paso store did not have armed security guards on duty whereas other Walmart stores do. It is true that Walmart stores in high crime areas are patrolled by armed security guards, but - according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report statistics for the one hundred most populated cities in America - El Paso ranks 76th for violent crimes. The likelihood is that Walmart's risk assessment did not identify an active shooter in El Paso as a reasonably foreseeable hazard.

When the event did occur, Walmart’s response is difficult to fault. Due to quarterly active shooter training provided by the company, staff reacted immediately to the “Code Brown” alert and guided hundreds of customers to safety - significantly reducing the number of casualties. The emergency communication system also alerted law enforcement to the incident, who arrived with six minutes - almost half the average time it takes for a police response to an active shooter event.

Could Walmart Have Done More to Protect Customers?

Without placing armed security guards throughout the store, it is difficult to see how Walmart could have done more to protect customers in El Paso. The act of violence was conducted in a relatively safe location by an individual who had travelled 650 miles to commit the atrocity, staff were well-trained in how to react in such a situation, and communication between the store and law enforcement was faster than average. Nonetheless, Walmart has said it is reviewing its customer protection policies.

It’s worth highlighting Walmart’s communication system with law enforcement because, just days before the tragic events in El Paso, a suspended Walmart employee walked into the company’s store in Southaven, Mississippi, and killed two of his managers. He was prevented from any further killing by armed police officers who arrived within three minutes of 9-1-1 being alerted to the active shooter event. Unfortunately, one police officer was injured in the subsequent exchange of fire.

Saving Minutes Saves Lives When an Active Shooter Event Occurs

In 2012, a study of active shooter events by NYC Police Department (PDF) revealed only 16% of the 230 active shooter incidents reviewed ended without “applied force”. A subsequent study conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PDF) calculated law enforcement arrives in time to stop half of active shooter events, and the FBI’s Active Shooter Incidents Report 2018 shows 17 of 27 incidents that year ended on the arrival of first responders or due to the attacker being shot by law enforcement officers.

Related Blog: 60% of Active Shooter Incidents in 2018 Occurred in Businesses

Although none of the reports speculates how many lives were saved by timely responses, it is obvious that the smaller a window of opportunity an active shooter has, the fewer number of lives he or she can take. Therefore, even if a business´s risk assessment shows a negligible likelihood of an active shooter event, it can be worthwhile investing in a communications system similar to the one used in Walmart in order to alert staff and 9-1-1 simultaneously to an active shooter in the minimum possible time.

Accelerating Emergency Responses with Panic Button Technology

Companies are starting to evaluate the technologies they have in place to protect employees and customers in the event of an active shooter threat. Panic button applications are a way to instantly connect with first responders and law enforcement allowing them to respond faster to a shooter incident.

The Rave Panic Button is a mobile phone app with advanced capabilities that accelerate emergency response to many different types of incident. Using the app, a member of staff can alert 9-1-1 and colleagues simultaneously to the nature and location of an emergency with two taps of a smartphone screen. The app´s ease of use eliminates panicked or confused calls to 9-1-1 that can delay emergency responses while ensuring that the correct emergency service is dispatched without delay.

To better prepare first responders for an incident, and enhance situational awareness during an incident, Rave Panic Button integrates with other safety and security installations - including the Rave Facility platform. To find out more about the Rave Panic Button’s capabilities, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of safety experts will be happy to organize a demo of Rave Panic Button in action to show how it can enhance your business’s responsibilities to protect customers from active shooters.

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A Growing Interest In Active Shooter Insurance For Business

September 10, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

active shooter insuranceA mass shooting is defined as an attack in which 3 or more people are killed by a firearm. This year the United States has seen a shocking 38 mass shootings or active shooter incidents, according to the New York Times. In August alone, the number of victims of mass shootings in the country totaled 53. The loss of life was felt greatly in Texas, where on August 31st, a gunman in Odessa began shooting indiscriminately at cars, killing 5 people. The incident devastated a state already reeling from a recent gun-related tragedy. Earlier in the month, on August 3rd, a massacre at a Wal-Mart in El Paso left 22 people dead, making it one of the most deadly attacks in the state. These mass shootings are raising new concerns about how best to protect businesses.

In a country already on edge amid rising incidents of gun violence, recent attacks have raised new anxieties and questions about public safety. Public and private corporate spaces are struggling to address gun-related risks, and discern how best to support employees following a tragedy of this magnitude. The shooting in El Paso, Texas, raised new concerns about how domestic terrorism impacts workplaces, and what best practices should be for preventing or preparing for such an event. Businesses are struggling to determine how best to prevent an attack, and in case of an emergency, save lives and mitigate damage. 

Now, the threat of gun violence has grown so great that schools, municipalities, and businesses are choosing to purchase insurance against it, according to CNBC. Even though active shooter insurance plans have been available for nearly a decade, there is new interest in coverage to cover employee medical expenses, property damage, and other considerations. Insurance coverage of this nature represents a worst-case scenario for any business, but in an era where gun violence is on the rise, interest in coverage for an active shooter incident will likely continue to grow.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Critical Workplace Safety Procedures

What Is Active Shooter Insurance? 

Although active shooter insurance, or active assailant coverage, has been around since 2011, they are becoming more visible in an era plagued by gun violence according to the Insurance Information Institute. The policy plan covers medical expenses and funeral costs for victims, as well as the cost of property damage and loss of business. In general, active shooter insurance would supplement, but not replace, the coverage a business is already investing in, which is typically general liability insurance. 

A general liability insurance plan, also known as business liability insurance, protects a business from general claims, which might include any physical injury or property damage. The plan helps cover medical expenses and attorney fees resulting from bodily injuries or property damage the business is legally responsible for. Most businesses, regardless of size, have a plan of this sort. 

According to CNBC, some researchers argue that general liability coverage predates the rise of active shooter incidents, and don’t offer sufficient support. Most general liability plans exclude employee injuries, auto accidents, professional mistakes, or intentional acts. Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, points out how these plans fail to consider, or deliberately exclude an active shooter incident. “As violence grows in schools, malls, universities, and other venues, insurers found that many of the standard liability policies in existence were written prior to the rise in mass shootings,” Worters told CNBC. “Some existing liability policies even exclude gun-related violence entirely.” 

An active shooter insurance policy is a standalone policy, and rates vary based on facility considerations. For example, a higher education institution is more open with high foot-traffic. The lack of physical security in public areas make college buildings more difficult to secure, which means the cost of an active assailant plan would be higher. In general, a small business such as a coffee shop would pay about $1,200 for $1 million in coverage, according to CNBC. 

What Does Active Shooter Insurance Cover? 

Many policies cover crisis management service, medical expense coverage, job retraining or relocation, and other potential supplements which are necessary and unlikely to be covered by a general liability plan. 

Medical Expenses. Policies ensure that employers are able to offer adequate support to affected employees and their families, including covering medical bills, funeral expenses, or death benefits. The policy also allows employers to provide trauma support, as certain plans  cover psychiatric counseling for victims traumatized by the event. 

Business Interuption Coverage. Insured businesses will better be able to recoup the financial losses caused by damage or destruction of property during an active shooter incident. The plan may also help a business stay afloat if regular operations are disrupted by significant property destruction. 

Relocation, Retraining, and Loss of Attraction. An active shooter incident can stigmatize a business, brand, building, or neighborhood, and businesses must be prepared for these losses as well. An active shooter insurance policy can help employees with relocation and retraining, should an individual decide the trauma is preventing them from remaining a current location or role. The policy can also help a business with revenue gaps caused by stigmatization, even if the shooting did not occur at the insured's business. 

Businesses must find new ways to mitigate risks for employees, and even though active shooter insurance may not be at the forefront of every employers' minds, the coverage can ultimately help support employees in case of an emergency. For this reason, the prevalence of these policies is increasing. In July, McGowan Program Administrators sold about 120 active shooter insurance policies, as per CNBC. During 2016, the administration sold the same number of policies over the course of a year. 

Technology, such as a mass notification system, can also play a major role in a businesses proactive approach to corporate safety, active shooter prevention and response. It allows business owners to inform employees of any potential risks, including an active shooter event, and keep all workers informed as the situation develops. In addition, the system helps with operational considerations, letting employees know of available resources in the instance of an emergency. 

When seconds count it is vital to be able to reach your employees quickly and effiently. Our Rave Alert system helps companies do so. Interested in learning more? Click the button below.

Rave Alert Employee Communications

Keeping Employees Safe During National Preparedness Month and Beyond

September 3, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

national preparedness monthOur new whitepaper “How to Keep Employees Safe When Every Second Counts” has been produced to coincide with National Preparedness Month 2019. It reports on the increasing frequency - and increasing cost - of severe weather events, and offers solutions to mitigate the risk of business disruption and injury to employees. 

Although this year's hurricane season has only really started with Hurricane Dorian, weather agencies are forecasting up to twelve more tropical storms before the end of November - up to eight of which could develop into hurricanes. At least two major hurricanes are anticipated in the coming months, potentially causing billions of dollars of damage and impacting thousands of lives.

Consequently, it is a good time to be reminded that September is National Preparedness Month - an event sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in which citizens are encouraged to take steps to prepare for emergencies. As far as businesses are concerned, FEMA's “Ready” campaign proposes four threats to business continuity to prepare against:

  • Natural hazards such as hurricanes, floods, tornados, and earthquakes.
  • Health hazards and widespread serious illness such as flu.
  • Human-caused hazards including accidents and acts of violence.
  • Technology-related hazards such as power outages and equipment failures.

Inasmuch as these four can be addressed as individual threats, the final three could all be consequences of a severe weather event. Serious illnesses - or the exacerbation of existing conditions - are common after severe weather events, as are accidents due to poor conditions, and ongoing power outages. Therefore, it can be beneficial to develop an all-hazards approach to emergency planning when preparing a business against the threat of severe weather.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Critical Workplace Safety Procedures

An Employer's Duty of Care to Employees

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers have a duty of care to provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards, establish operating procedures and communicate them clearly, and provide safety training. In the context of severe weather emergency preparedness, this means identifying which severe weather events are likely to affect the business, developing an Emergency Action Plan, communicating the plan to employees, and conducting drills of the plan.

It is important for employers to be aware their duty of care extends beyond the physical workplace if employees work off-site or remotely, or travel between sites. Therefore, if any employee is likely to be impacted by a severe weather event - including a winter storm or extreme temperatures - they have to be included in the business's Emergency Action Plan. The penalties for failing to comply with OSHA regulations can range from $13,260 for a serious violation to $132,598 for repeated violations.

Beyond avoiding a fine for violating OSHA regulations, it also makes good business sense to protect employees from severe weather events. The direct costs of an employee sustaining an avoidable injury may be covered by insurance, but the indirect costs (loss of productivity, temporary labor/overtime costs, recruiting, hiring, and training replacement workers, etc.) can have a significant impact on profitability. For large businesses, the impact can be crippling.

How to Keep Employees Safe When Every Second Counts

Our whitepaper - “How to Keep Employees Safe When Every Second Counts” - discusses the most common types of severe weather events, and notes how they are increasing in frequency and cost. With regards to an employer's duty of care, the whitepaper raises the importance of timely warnings for employee protection and developing a “critical communications” employee safety net in order to stay connected during severe weather events.

In order to keep employees safe when every second counts, the whitepaper recommends mass notification systems with two-way mobile app extensions that enable employees to reach out for assistance when required. Provided employees are trained to use the systems - and the mobile apps are used in training exercises - the mass notification systems fulfil employers' duty of care, and facilitate business continuity - or an accelerated recovery - when a severe weather event occurs.

To find out more about the recommended solutions, do not hesitate to download our whitepaper. If, after reading the whitepaper, you would like to see the recommended solutions in action, you are invited to contact us in order to request a free demo. Our team of safety experts will be happy to discuss any unique severe weather threats that could result in business disruption or injury to employees, and will tailor the demonstration to your business's specific requirements.

severe weather

Severe Weather Alert Templates Businesses Should Be Using

August 27, 2019 Blog Author: Amelia Marceau

shutterstock_714982963Severe weather events in the United States are inevitable. Preparing your business for any type of emergency can be difficult, but the right tools (like a mass notification system, emergency and business continuity plan) can have a positive impact on employee safety.

Having a way to connect with employees is vital, but once you get the right tools, what do you send to communicate with them? In a mass notification system, a company can create templates and save them for when they are necessary. Having some in place for any drills, anticipated weather events or other critical events can save valuable time when it comes to reaching out to employees. 

The Cost of Severe Weather 

 While safety is the first concern in any emergency, there are always unavoidable costs that follow. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the most costly event is a tropitcal cycline (hurricane) with an average cost of $22.3 billion in damages. Wildfires average a cost of $5.0 billion per event, floods average a coast of $4.3 billion per event, winter storms average $2.9 billion per event, and other severe storms can average $2.2 billion per event.

Alerts by Region

The severity of weather events is hard to foresee. Businesses are responsible for warning their employees of any delays, closures, and safety hazards. 

Hurricanes

The United States experiences a lot of hurricanes throughout the country, but they are most felt along the U.S. coastline. Florida, for example, has been directly hit by 120 hurricanes from 1851- 2018 according to the NOAA. Having a template, like the one below, can be a quick and efficient way to update employees on the office status. 

hurricane

Floods

Floods can occur at out of nowhere and water levels can rise drastically in a matter of hours. There was a national average of 5 days of high tide flooding that occurred within coastal communities in 2018-- this tied with the record which was set in 2015. Being able to warn employees of flash floods can have a drastic impact on employee safety. A sample alert (like the one below) ensures that businesses do their due diligence to keep employees safe.  

flood

Tornadoes

An average of 1300 tornadoes hit the United States each year. Typically, people have 13 minutes to get to a safe place. Employees in areas with a high frequency of tornadoes need to be prepared in case of an emergency. With little notice, tornadoes can prove to be disastrous. Timely notifications can ensure employee safety throughout a tornado warning. 

tornado

Wildfires

Wildfires can claim hundreds of thousands of acres in a single day. While wildfires can spark anywhere, the most well known location is California. In 2018, California experienced its costliest, deadliest, and largest wildfires to date. The camp fire ignited on November 8, 2018 and was not officially contained until 18 days later. The camp fire claimed more than 18,500 buildings which brought the total cost of California’s 2018 wildfires to $24 billion. Being able to quickly and safely evacuate employees is key in a wildfire situation. Having an alert ready to go can help with that process. 

wildfire

Winter Storms

Winter storms can cause business delays and even closures. Illinois, on average, experiences five severe winter storms during the November-April period. The storms may only be heavy snow, or snow with ice, or ice only, but one storm can produce snowfall of 6 inches or more over 48 hours. Keeping employees off the roads can prove to be the safest option in some cases. Having an alert keyed to let employees know when the office is closed can do just that. 

winterstorms

It can be hard to predict and anticipate any form of severe weather. It can never hurt to be over prepared with pre-set alert templates that can be sent out in a snap. Using an easy interface and reliable system can ensure that everything runs smoothly when it is needed most. Features like automatic weather notifications (as a FEMA Certified IPAWS Alert Origination Service Provider alerts are triggered by the National Weather Service), and a geotargeted notification can ensure employee communication and response through any storm or severe weather event. 

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How Company Campus Security Teams Can Combat Avoidable Threats

August 20, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

shutterstock_484044418Due to the volume and variety of threats to people and property in the workplace, developing a company campus security strategy that addresses every potential eventuality is impossible. However, by implementing a simple-to-use phone app, companies can better understand the threats and better defend against them.

If your company campus security team were to conduct a risk assessment, what eventualities would present the biggest threats to the people and property on your company campus? Most companies will answer this question differently because of the nature of their operations, and factors such as their locations and the systems put in place to defend against threats they have already identified.

However, two answers that would likely appear less often than is justified are “active assailants” and “insider theft”. This is because the two events are significantly underreported, resulting in a misperception of their frequency and a failure to adequately defend against them. Yet, between the events, they can have a greater impact on a company than almost any other eventuality.

Read the Latest Workplace Violence Statistics

Active Assailants Don't Have to Carry Guns

An active assailant is defined as a person with premeditated and malicious intent to kill or cause bodily harm - not necessarily with a gun. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (PDF), there were 733 workplace homicides in 2017 attributable to an active assailant, but only 351 of those involved guns. These figures give a far more accurate picture of the threat of active assailants than figures produced by the FBI (who recorded ten shootings in business premises in 2017), but they don't tell the whole story.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also compiles reports each year relating to the number of employees suffering non-fatal injuries to “violence by persons or animals”, but this is not a reliable source of active assailant activity as it is survey-based. For example, according to the latest report (2017), the incidence rate of non-fatal injuries attributable to active assailants in the workplace was 7.1 per 100,000 full-time employees. As there are 132 million full time employees in the U.S., this would imply 9,372 attacks.

Active Assailant Events are Grossly Underreported

However, when compared with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' data on non-fatal injuries from workplace violence for healthcare workers (2014), there is a massive discrepancy. The Department of Health and Human Services recorded nearly seventeen thousand incidents that year; and, as the healthcare industry accounts for around 12 percent of the nation's workforce, it could be claimed the true number of active assailant events each year is closer to 140,000.

Admittedly, there is a higher frequency of workplace violence against healthcare workers than any other category of employees, but the calculation of 140,000 non-fatal injuries attributable to workplace active assailants is based on “recorded” incidents. Due to rampant underreporting of workplace injuries in the healthcare sector, the actual number could be much higher.

[RELATED BLOG] Workplace Violence: Why Improving Emergency Communications is  Key to Employee Safety

Malicious Insiders can do More Harm than External Actors

Our blog lists the five main types of workplace violence; and in three of the five types, there is a strong likelihood that the assailant is known to their victim - either as a client, a colleague, or someone with whom they have a personal relationship. In all cases of insider theft, the perpetrator is known to colleagues, and is likely displaying tell-take signs of their malicious activities - activities that can do more harm than external actors' malicious activities because of the insider's knowledge of internal systems.

Most articles discussing the harm that can be done by malicious insiders focus on data theft and cybersecurity - indeed, in one survey 45 percent of respondents saw employees as the main threat to cloud security. But data theft is not the only target of malicious insiders. Many can falsify paper documents in order to cover up the theft of cash or goods (i.e. pharmaceuticals), while other may steal confidential company information they can monetize by taking it to a competitor.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Cyber Attack Procedures

Identifying Potential Workplace Active Assailants and Malicious Insiders

Estimates of how much workplace violence costs U.S. industry vary, but some industry experts believe companies are losing up to $121 billion annually. Similarly, nobody really knows the cost of insider theft, with one guesstimate suggesting companies are losing up to $40 billion per year due to employee theft and fraud. Yet many of these losses are avoidable. Either an active assailant is known to the victim and has displayed signs of unusual behavior, or a malicious insider is displaying one or more of the following characteristics:

Work colleagues often see these signs of unusual behavior or characteristics in the workplace, but fail to bring them to anyone's attention until after the event. In her article “7 Reasons Employees Don't Report Workplace Violence” Carol Fredrickson attributes the failure to report colleagues' unusual behaviors to:

  • Fear of retaliation
  • Fear of becoming the office “snitch”
  • Fear of a grievance or lawsuit
  • Fear of a negative reaction
  • The assumption the unusual behavior will “blow over”
  • A lack of company procedures
  • A lack of training

A solution to overcome the reluctance to report colleagues' unusual behaviors and workplace violence when it happens is an anonymous tip texting app. This easy-to-use app makes employees' data anonymous so the company campus security team receive intelligence it can act on, but doesn't know its origins. It can use the intelligence to investigate potential workplace active assailants and malicious insiders in order to prevent workplace violence and insider theft before it occurs.

Find Out More about Anonymous Tip Texting Technology

Anonymous tip texting technology won't help your company campus security team prevent threats such as severe weather events or chemical spills (there's no technology that can prevent a hurricane), but these are comparatively rare events compared to active assailants and malicious insiders. Furthermore, there a number of excellent mass notification tools that can warn employees to the risk of danger and mitigate the consequences of such events.

For most company campus security teams, the biggest threats are those which they are unaware of, that don't go reported, and that they lack visibility into. Companies can help their security teams - and engage all employees with a responsibility for campus safety - by distributing anonymous tip texting apps throughout the workforce. These systems do not cost very much to implement, and if they prevent one active assailant or insider theft, they will have already paid for themselves.

Anonymous Tips for Workplace Safety

A Day in the Life of a Hospital Emergency Manager

August 20, 2019 Blog Author: Samantha Hoppe

Hospital Emergency ManagerHospitals are a critical part of an emergency. But how do medical centers remain operational when disaster strikes? Hospital emergency managers ensure safety and emergency preparedness of hospitals and by extension, their community. In addition to internal incidents, when an emergency occurs in a wider area, communities turn to hospitals and need to be prepared.

A hospital emergency manager holds a great deal of responsibility and wears many hats. This professional directs the response to disasters and oversees crisis management in hospitals or other medical facilities. This process involves the planning, coordination and updates for all aspects of emergency management and operations plan for both employees and patients. It is their job to gather the information needed to write the emergency preparedness plans for their facility and to be able to carry out those plans. The strategic vision for all emergency management prevention, response, and recovery is the responsibility of this role.

Related Blog: The Difference between Emergency Preparedness and Business  Continuity for Hospitals

Creating, training, communicating, and updating emergency response plans take up a significant amount of time for hospitals emergency managers. The goal of preparedness plans is to minimize damages and complications in the event of an emergency. These plans outline operating procedures to be used in response to different types of emergencies. A thorough plan should prepare for and respond to the needs of emergency victims. 

In addition to the medical facility, emergency managers of hospitals must also be prepared for natural or man-made disasters that strike their surrounding area. According to the American College of Healthcare Executives, “The organization’s emergency operations plan should recognize that a healthcare organization may be directly impacted by a disaster and still continue to operate and receive victims of the event.” Communities look to hospitals to care for the ill and injured, to provide food and shelter, and to help coordinate disaster recovery. The mission of hospital emergency managers is to take care of those inside their walls, and the community surrounding it. Ordering evacuations, opening shelters, and ensuring that special needs programs are carried out are a few community responsibilities that may fall under this role. Supporting the greater community's emergency response requires collaborating with local stakeholders, which is another important aspect of a hospital emergency manager's day. 

These potential emergencies for hospitals could come in the form of severe weather, cyber-attacks, workplace violence, and more. In addition to natural disasters, hospital emergency mangers must cover responses for potential CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive) emergencies and sustained events such as a pandemic influenza. Any sort of emergency situation can potentially impact a healthcare facility. The emergencies that professionals analyze and prepare for the operational issues of can differ by hospital systems or regions. This role has an ongoing responsibility to understand and stay current regarding applicable state and national standards for emergency preparedness, including the National Response Framework and the Hospital Preparedness Program.

Training others on emergency preparedness is a main day to day responsibility for hospital emergency mangers. The Emergency Management Degree Program Guide says that it’s the “duty of these professionals to design and implement emergency preparedness courses for their staff and community members in order to disseminate information on proper response during various types of situations.” Emergency managers in hospitals must plan and execute all emergency operations plan (EOP) training and exercise events. Emergency management coordinators must communicate with all hospital staff so all employees are properly educated and prepared incase disaster strikes. This includes colleagues, subordinates, supervisors, hospital executives, and more.

A key part of this role is to always be learning and keeping up with new developments in the healthcare industry. Attending events and conferences are important for hospital emergency managers to stay up to date with information and learn best practices from peers. A FEMA Emergency Management license within the past 6 months is a common qualification for the role. The training for this certification is based on a framework within whole communities to reduce vulnerability to hazards and to cope with disasters. The emergency operations plan of a hospital needs to be fully integrated with other agencies and organizations at the local, state and national levels.

Maintaining relationships with community stakeholders is important for emergency mangers at healthcare facilities. Hospitals are a critical element within any emergency response system, especially medical. Hospital emergency leaders must work closely with their local government to develop incident response plans, coordinate efforts, and exchange resources. Hospital emergency managers and community leaders meet to understand each other’s needs, capabilities, and stay up to date. Together, they develop instructional materials for educating public groups on disaster readiness. Collaboration with government officials is also necessary for post-disaster assessment and to maintain incident related regulations. Hospital emergency preparedness is a priority for government at all levels, as well as a key focus of regulatory and accrediting agencies. It is essential for hospital emergency managers to build and maintain relationships with these key stakeholders for collaboration and updates.

Hospitals emergency managers depend on fast and efficient communication methods during emergencies to keep their staff informed, as well to communicate with patients, contractors and other visitors on-site. This role is responsible for ensuring employees receive critical emergency information. Our survey from last year found that email is the most commonly used channel for communication during a variety of situations, from workplace emergencies to finding shift coverage.

FREE REPORT: Healthcare Emergency Preparedness and Security Trends

Weather events, active shooter incidents, and cyber-attacks are the three biggest safety concerns for healthcare professionals according the 300 we surveyed last year. System outages and severe weather are the most common incidents that hospital emergency managers deal with regularly. There’s an increase in healthcare data breaches, occurring every day. And though these professionals are concerned for them, 30% don’t run drills or test emergency plans for a cyberattack event.

Hospital emergency managers are also responsible for the well being of hospital employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that workplace violence is four times more common in healthcare than in the private industry. Though their main responsibility is patient care, nurses endure staggering amounts of physical and verbal abuse often by the very people they’re caring for. Nurses, both male (96%) and female (84%), have been physically threatened by their own patients, according to Medscape.

As the healthcare industry continues to rapidly grow, hospital emergency managers must evolve to protect employees. Even though healthcare workers make up only 12.2% of the workforce, nearly 75% of workplace assaults occur in the healthcare industry. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, healthcare workers experience the most nonfatal workplace injuries compared to other professions. In healthcare, nursing professionals experience a staggering amount of sexual harassment incidents. Hospital emergency managers must prioritize the personal safety of hospital employees so that they are able to take care of patients.

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Why Every Business Should Have a Corporate Facility Profile

August 13, 2019 Blog Author: Amelia Marceau

shutterstock_168410300At 3 a.m. on June 17, 2019, an office building not far from the Las Vegas Strip caught fire and burned down. Thankfully, no one was injured in the incident, but the fire department faced some interesting challenges. Because of the magnitude of the fire, over 100 firefighters were needed to put out the flames and the building required overnight watch.

The building was an oval shape-- something the first responders did not know until they were on the scene. The nature of the building posed a struggle for firefighters who were trying to get ahead of the flames. The most alarming challenge for the firefighters, however, was the fact that the building had no automatic sprinklers. While the building was up to the International Building Code, all of the information first responders learned on the scene could have been brought to their attention earlier. 

How to Better Prepare First Responders

When first responders arrive at the scene of an emergency, they often try to find the most effective way into the building. A place that has multiple floors and various companies, like a commercial building, can be difficult for first responders to reach the right area in a timely manner. 

Four things that can better prepare a company and first responders include:

  • Labeling entrances and loading docks with numbers or letters. This allows for 9-1-1 callers to direct first responders closer to the incident. 
  • Working with the fire departments and building inspectors to make sure the commercial space is up to code. In the case of the Las Vegas building, the 1980 building code did not require the commercial building to have automatic sprinklers. However, having more fire extinguishers and being more or equally prepared as new buildings could have made an impact. 
  • Having clear signage inside the building. Directions and arrows to items like fire hoses, extinguishers, AED devices, exits, and more can help firefighters move quickly throughout a space. 
  • Creating a Facility Profile. Loading virtual information about a building and including information like floor plans, campus boundaries, and access points can prepare first responders on the way to an emergency. 

It is good practice to have more than one plan in place for commercial building emergencies. 

What a Corporate Facility Profile Provides to First Responders  

There is a lot of information in a commercial building that first responders could have access to in case of an emergency. Pertinent information can be included in a facility profile, such as:

facility-1

  • Access points and necessary entry codes
  • The location of fire extinguishers and AEDs 
  • The locations and codes for alarms
  • How to remotely access CCTV footage
  • Emergency contact information (especially for key holders, administrators, and security personnel)
  • Landline phone numbers and their location within buildings and rooms
  • Utility information and shutoff locations for buildings

A facility profile displays automatically when the caller’s landline ANI matches a registered telephone number in the account, or when the Phase II wireless location in the ALI overlaps the geo-fenced footprint of an account. Call takers and first responders can also search for a facility if information is needed during an incident without a 9-1-1 call such as a business check, suspect search or fire.

Medical emergencies, fires, and active shooter incidents can all be prepared for in advance with a corporate facility profile. Rave Facility has improved the speed and efficiency of emergency response by providing evacuation routes and hydrant locations during a fire, AED locations during a medical emergency, and floor plans in the event of an active shooter.

Create a Facility Profile

How Manufacturers can Address Quality Issues and Protect the Bottom Line through Streamlined Communication

August 6, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

protect the bottom line through streamlined communicationUnplanned downtime and product recalls can significantly drive up costs in the manufacturing industry; yet, because the causes of these adverse events are not easy to predict, they are difficult to prepare for. One solution to mitigate the consequences of unplanned downtime and product recalls is to streamline communications.

In 2005, Nielsen Research conducted a survey of 101 executives in the automotive industry on behalf of Advanced Technology Services Inc. (ATS). The objective of the survey was to determine how many businesses would benefit from outsourcing machine maintenance to ATS in order to reduce the number of machine breakdowns and increase productivity. One of the questions asked was how much unplanned downtime cost the manufacturers - and the response was a staggering $22,000 per minute.

Bearing in mind the survey is nearly fifteen years out of date, the actual cost of unplanned downtime per minute is now likely to be much higher. Furthermore, due to an increased reliance on software systems to keep production lines running, software glitches and cyberattacks against businesses in the manufacturing industry can cause just as many stoppages as machine failures - and these types of stoppages can often take longer to resolve because you can´t just replace a piston to stop a cyberattack.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Cyber Attack ProceduresIt's not only machine breakdowns, software glitches, and the actions of malicious actors that can cause unplanned downtime. A survey in 2017 (registration required) found that 23 percent of all unplanned downtime in manufacturing is the result of human error; compared to an all-industry average of 17 percent and rates as low as 9 percent in some industries. With this range of adverse events responsible for unplanned downtime, it is difficult to comprehensively prepare for every possible eventuality.

Product Recalls Can be Even More Expensive

The cost of unplanned downtime in manufacturing can pale into insignificance when compared to product recall costs. In December 2017, the global corporate arm of the Allianz insurance company - AGCS - analyzed 367 product recall insurance claims between 2012 and mid-2017. Analysts found (PDF) that the average cost of a large product recall across all industries was $11.7 million once indirect costs are taken into account (i.e. litigation, regulatory fines, lost sales, loss of reputation, etc.).

Related Blog: How to Quickly Communicate Product Recalls to Distributors

Not only did AGCS' analysts find that the scale of product recalls is increasing, but also their frequency. The analysts attributed the increases in scale and frequency to five contributing factors:

  • Consolidation in the supply chain means that, whenever a product is recalled from the chain, the “ripple effect” extends far wider than before.
  • The enforcement of tougher consumer protection regulations - and whistleblower protection in the U.S. - has resulted in manufacturers coming under greater scrutiny.
  • There are more product recalls attributable to undeclared allergens caused by labeling errors, toxins, and environmental contamination.
  • Economic pressures has resulted in businesses not fully testing their products before going to market or sourcing cheaper components from unreliable sources.
  • As social pressures increase against (for example) slave labor and child labor, some businesses have recalled products to protect their reputations.

Social pressures can have a considerable impact on the scale of a product recall - and its costs. The report's authors note that the scale and cost of a poorly-managed product recall can be exacerbated if social media learns of a potentially harmful product; and that the key to limiting reputational damage is “timely and honest communication” - not just with end users, but also with other businesses throughout the supply chain, the media, and regulatory agencies.

Related Article: Overcoming 5 Business Communication Challenges

How to Mitigate the Consequences of Adverse Events in Manufacturing

Timely and honest communication is not only important during the product recall process, but also when unplanned downtime occurs. Employees and businesses further up the supply chain need to be told what is going on and how likely it is going to last. It might also be necessary to communicate quickly with suppliers to prevent the delivery of manufacturing components coming into the business - especially in the food industry where manufacturing components may only have a limited lifecycle.

The best way to achieve timely and honest communication is with a streamlined approach. Communication platforms such as a mass notification system can be integrated with digital signage systems to alert workers in a noisy environment about a machine breakdown or other event (i.e. severe weather) and how long it may take to resolve. The same platform can be used to alert businesses up and down the supply chain of unplanned downtime, and - in cases of emergency events - to alert emergency services.

geo-poll-healthDuring unplanned downtime, a geotargeted polling feature can be used to warn employees who have not yet started their shifts to delay coming to work, or - when the issue causing the downtime has been resolved - to connect with employees in order to see who is available for extra shifts. If the cause of the unplanned downtime is the business's ERM system, mass notification can also be used as a plant-wide communications platform in order to maintain production while the ERM system is fixed.

The ways in communication platforms with geo-poll features can accelerate product recalls and mitigate the consequences are discussed in this article, and it is also suggested businesses in every industry review our whitepaper “7 Essentials to Break through the Clutter” which includes a business-critical communications checklist that covers events such as unplanned downtime and product recalls. 

Business Critical Communication Solutions Platform

Could Your Business Answer “Yes” to Eight or More Emergency Preparedness Questions?

July 30, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

emergency preparednessThis year's hurricane season is forecasted to have the third highest level of storm intensity this decade, yet many businesses are not fully prepared for severe weather events. Some lack basic severe weather preparedness plans, potentially placing the business - and the people who work for it - at risk.

In 2003, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported that 40 percent of businesses do not reopen after a disaster and a further 25 percent of businesses fail within a year. Similar statistics from the U.S. Small Business Administration indicated over 90 percent of small businesses fail within two years due to putting too much reliance on insurance and awards from government agencies.

The data may be nearly twenty years old, but it is just as relevant today as it was then. In the ten hurricane seasons prior to FEMA's report, five had seen average or below average storm intensities as measured by the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) scale. In the past ten seasons, four have seen above normal storm intensities and two were classified as “hyperactive” - the highest level on the scale.

The bad news for businesses unprepared for severe weather is that the latest hurricane season forecast (PDF) predicts an ACE measurement of 150; which puts it just below the hyperactive level and - if the forecast is correct - will make 2019 the third most intense hurricane season this decade. Furthermore, if recent severe weather patterns are repeated, the hurricanes could reach further inland than ever before - affecting many businesses who have historically not been at risk from severe weather emergencies.

Many Businesses Fail to Prepare for Hurricane Season

Last year, FM Global - a US mutual insurance company specializing in loss prevention services - conducted a survey among its customers affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The company found 62 percent of businesses that experienced an adverse impact due to the three hurricanes were not completely prepared against their impact and/or their consequences. 

In a press release, the company's Vice President - Dr. Louis Gritzo - attributed the lack of preparedness to risk denial, risk miscalculation, and an over-reliance on insurance. It was noted that 7 in 10 respondents were going to make changes to their risk management strategies and that 40 percent will invest more in risk management, property loss prevention, and/or supply chain risk management.

Dr. Gritzo commented that relying on insurance to support a business after a natural disaster is a mistake. He said “insurance cannot restore market share, brand equity or shareholder value”, and added “these candid admissions drive home a fundamental truth about catastrophe. People routinely fail to understand or acknowledge the magnitude of risk until they've experienced a fateful event.”

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Critical Workplace Safety Procedures

How Prepared is Your Business for a Severe Weather Emergency?

In 2007, the National Safety Council published a course for small businesses with the objective of encouraging them to develop emergency strategies and emergency preparedness plans. Although the course is directed at small businesses and doesn't directly focus on severe weather, the introduction includes an excellent assessment form to gauge each business's readiness for an emergency event. The assessment form consists of eleven questions:

  • Does your business know what kinds of emergencies might affect it – both internally and externally?
  • Does your business have a written, comprehensive emergency plan in place to help ensure your safety and take care of employees until help can arrive?
  • Has your business created and practiced procedures to quickly evacuate and find shelter in case of an emergency?
  • Has your business created a communication plan to communicate with employees in an emergency?
  • Has your business talked with utility service providers about potential alternatives and identified back-up options?
  • Has your business determined operations that need to be up and running first after an emergency and how to resume key operations?
  • Has your business created a list of inventory and equipment, including computer hardware, software, and peripherals for business continuity and insurance purposes?
  • Has your business met with your insurance provider to review current coverage in case of an emergency?
  • Does your business promote family and individual preparedness among co-workers either during staff meetings or via internal communication?
  • Have emergency shutdown procedures been developed for equipment such as boilers, automatic feeds or other operations that cannot be left running in an emergency evacuation?
  • Has your business worked with your community on emergency planning efforts and helped to plan for community recovery?

Each question can be answered “Yes”, “No” or “Unsure”. Only if eight or more questions are answered “Yes” is a business considered to be on its way to having a comprehensive and effective emergency preparedness in place. From this starting point, businesses taking the course are shown how to best prepare for any type of emergency with special focus on communications, direction and control, training, medical services, and community outreach.

Why Effective Communication is Essential, Before, During, and After an Emergency

Effective communication is essential before an emergency to ensure everybody knows their roles when an emergency occurs. It is essential during an emergency to keep everybody safe, and essential after an emergency to get the business running again as quickly as possible. However, during severe weather emergencies, it is advisable to have a communication system in place that does not rely on one channel of communication to keep in touch with emergency services, employees, customers, and suppliers.

Broken power lines, damaged cell towers, and flooding are frequent occurrences during the hurricane season; and these events can prevent voice calls, SMS texts, and emails reaching their destination. Ensure your business has a communications system capable of supporting your emergency preparedness plan.

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