Five Steps to Developing the Most Effective Food Processing Emergency Response Plan

Food Plant Emergency Response Series

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You’ve conducted the required emergency response training with your employees — but are they truly prepared for an incident? Recognizing that government-mandated training is often not enough, many food processing safety managers are going above and beyond mandated requirements and customizing training to ensure employees are prepared for a range of unexpected scenarios. Below are five key steps you can take to ensure your employees are prepared for any emergency:

1. Identify leaders among your employees who have the authority and skills to direct others during an emergency. Emergency leaders should be high-performing employees who are confident and adequately cross-trained among divisions.

2. Use interactive training methods to ensure your employees truly absorb the information. Employees can benefit from a variety of teaching methods including instructor-led training, online self-paced training, and attending safety classes at a local university.

3. Incorporate unexpected situations into drills to prevent employees from simply going through the motions and to see how they will react. Host debriefings afterward to discuss what worked, how the response could be more effective, and to solicit ideas and input from your team.

4. Access to safety equipment is critical to emergency response. Again, plan for the unexpected. Can employees easily locate and access emergency equipment in the dark? Is it accessible along evacuation routes? Does your supply include face shields, respirators, safety glasses, hard hats, earplugs, and personal protective equipment for each employee?  Do you audit your supply to ensure the personal protective equipment will be available when it is required?

5. Engage partners as part of your plant’s training program, as they’ll most likely be onsite immediately following an emergency. Invite first responders from your Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) as well as vendors and service providers to participate in drills and safety meetings.

 

If you’d like to learn more emergency training best practices, email me at shawkins@stellar.net

 

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