The recent weather events of tornadoes and severe weather that rolled through, decimating western Kentucky and other places of the Midwest, were nothing short of awful and tragic due to the unavailability of the crisis communication system.
These events shined a light on the level of preparedness of manufacturing, distribution, factories, and all other places of business. Many of these organizations do not allow phones on the shop floor. They mandate they stay in the car or the employee’s locker. This is understandable and for a good reason. The phone can be a significant distraction and create an unsafe workplace for employees. Imagine walking through the shop floor with your nose in your phone, and the forklift turns the corner. Not to mention the steep decrease in productivity if employees are on their phones. But we should not forget about crisis communication.
However, if employees do not have access to their phones for updates such as inclement weather, news, or a means to call for help – what is the employer doing to keep their employees safe? They have a duty, an obligation, to provide means to communicate immediate and critical crises to their employees. ADA compliance should also be considered by providing layers of communication.
How could these crises be communicated to employees in a factory setting?
- Audible message over the PA system
- Siren/Strobe that signifies specific events
- Audible messages over two-way radio or pagers
- Computer monitor or message board messaging
On top of crisis communication, they also need to provide a wealth of options for that employee to notify someone of a critical event, such as moderate workplace violence and maybe even the most severe – an active shooter.
How could employees communicate or signal they need help in some crisis?
- Panic button stations represent different emergencies, break communication barriers, and trigger different crisis actions.
- Personal panic button or lone worker device
- Gunshot detection – needing no human action to send an alert or notification.
Instant communication with employees and a means for them to send an alert is only half of the equation. All of these layers of technology should be customized and tied to the employer’s specific crisis communication plan. Each organization needs to have a robust plan in place, planning for any emergency. Employees need to know what plan to execute and when. Employers should be ready with a plan and then a way to communicate that plan to fulfill their duty of keeping their people, their most valuable assets, safe.