Workers dangerously unprepared for an emergency, poll suggests

The average American spends more than a third of his or her day on the job. After factoring in traffic, not to mention company title – like business owner or executive – the amount of time engaged in work-related functions is a lot higher, as responsibilities can take awhile to finish.

As a result, were an urgent situation to take place, there's always the possibility that it could happen during business hours. But in what may come as an unsettling piece of news to company management, a fairly high percentage of workers admit that they would be at a loss for what to do if at the office and there was an emergency, a recent poll found.

1 in 4 workers unprepared for emergency
Almost 25 percent of employers indicate that they wouldn't know what to do or where to go if there were working and their physical safety was on the line, according to a survey conducted by employment search engine CareerBuilder. More specifically, almost 1 in 3 – 30 percent – said they weren't confident about their workplace having the resources needed to protect workers from individuals who posed a threat, as well as risks emanating from the internet.

Rosemary Haefner, chief of human resources at CareerBuilder, indicated that feeling safe and secure is every bit as fundamental to a workplace as the equipment that employees work on and use.

"Ensuring a safe and secure work environment should be of the utmost importance in any workplace," Haefner explained. "Keeping employees protected means not only putting measures in place to keep them safe, but making sure employees are aware of the policies and procedures they can protect themselves, too."

It's these very procedures that a number of workers aren't certain that they know. Over 1 in 5 of respondents to the CareerBuilder survey said their employers had never gone over what the protocol was if a fire were to take place and over 1 in 4 – 26 percent – said the same about natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes or some other type of environmental catastrophe.

Business owners who prioritize continuity planning are more likely to have the systems in place that enable staff to maintain normalcy when circumstances are anything but. Additionally, tenured employees – who have been working for the same company over a number of years – may also have a better idea of what they should do when there's an emergency. However, it's often a different story for people who are new to the profession or companies that have only recently opened. According to a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 482,000 businesses currently in operation have been up and running for two years or fewer. That accounts for nearly 10 percent of all employers with staff.

Business owners may need to reemphasize why 'Safety First' is no mere motto - but a credo. Business owners may need to reemphasize why 'Safety First' is no mere motto – but a credo.

Important though productivity may be, no one can deny that the motto "Safety First" takes priority. Nevertheless, many workers in a variety of industries believe that the reverse is true – that productivity usurps safety. In a survey done by the National Safety Council, over 60 percent of workers in the construction industry felt as though finishing tasks was more important than their physical well-being and slightly more than 50 percent in both the agricultural and forestry professions felt the same way.

"Every employee deserves a safe workplace, said Deborah Hersman, NSC president and CEO. "While some of our findings were encouraging, others were a stark reminder of how far we still have to go to ensure safety is every employer's highest priority."

Basic tips on emergency planning
A variety of emergency planning resources can be found online. One of the more comprehensive ones is made available by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor. The information includes what qualifies as a workplace emergency, as well as what action plants should be taken. OSHA also details when an evacuation should be implemented, along with tips on the best access points to exit besides the doors and the most ideal areas for everyone to meet.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has similar online resources that help with the human element of crisis planning, where employees can learn what's required of them before, during and after an emergency happens.

The hope is that urgent situations won't ever occur, but with climate experts saying that extreme weather is the new normal, it's smart to expect the unexpected. Continuity Centers has the tools and resources that can help business owners and their staff pick up where they left off through our Workgroup Diversified strategy. Regardless of the circumstances, our geographic footprint enables us to get entrepreneurs the systems and infrastructure they need so they don't miss a beat when Mother Nature takes an ugly turn.