Is Your Crew Prepared for an Emergency?

2020 is teaching us an important lesson: we need to be prepared for pretty much anything to happen at any time. From pandemics to natural disasters to accidents and injuries on the jobsite, there’s a lot we need to prepare for.

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By Jason Hurdis, Global Market Professional, Construction Materials Industry, Caterpillar Inc.

If there’s one lesson to be learned from 2020, it’s this: We need to be prepared for pretty much anything to happen at any time. From pandemics to natural disasters to accidents and injuries on the jobsite, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Fortunately, a well-trained crew can get emergency response right — helping you keep people safe and healthy. Here are four steps to take to make sure your team is ready to take action in the event of an emergency:

  1. Train workers in first aid and CPR. When a health issue or injury occurs on the job, the most critical minutes are those between the 911 call and the arrival of first responders. That’s why it’s so important to have crew members properly trained to help. The American Red Cross recommends that 10-15% of your workforce be certified in first aid and CPR. (Keep their certification current as guidelines may change from year to year.) The Red Cross is good place to start to find training in your area.
  2. Stock your site with emergency equipment. In addition to first aid training, you need first aid equipment on every jobsite. At a minimum, that should include construction-specific first aid kits (you can find plenty of these online), an automated external defibrillator (AED), a burn kit and an adequate number of fire extinguishers. Make sure your crew knows where this equipment is located and how to use it correctly.
  3. Establish and communicate evacuation routes. If there’s a fire, chemical spill or other “get out fast” situation on your site, will your workers know where to go? Before a new job begins, map the site and identify at least two emergency evacuation routes (assuming that one may become unusable). It’s also a good idea to note the location of first aid kits, AEDs and fire extinguishers on this map, along with assembly points — the locations where employees will gather following an evacuation so you can ensure everyone is accounted for. Share this information with employees when they first arrive on site and on a regular basis throughout the project.
  4. Create and post an emergency action plan. In a moment of crisis, it’s not uncommon for people to panic and forget the basic information they need to get help. For every jobsite, put together a simple one-pager with site address, phone numbers for the local police and fire departments, and the location of the closest hospital. You may want to combine this information with the map described above, so all important emergency information is accessible in one place. Then post these sheets in highly visible locations around your jobsite.

When it comes to emergency preparation and disaster planning, the old adage holds true: “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” The good news is that there are plenty of resources available to help you ensure your team is prepared to act when disaster strikes. Start with, OSHA’s emergency preparedness website or these resources from Associated Builders and Contractors. Our Safety Services team at Caterpillar is here to help, too.