How To Tackle Workplace Emergencies

As the owner, operator or Health and Safety Executive of a commercial building - be it an office-based workplace, industrial unit, healthcare facility, etc. - you are responsible for overseeing the safety standards for the company or operation in your care. Preparing for potential hazards and emergencies is a vital part of your role to protect the safety and well-being of workers, customers and service users. Here are some examples of emergencies that require robust action plans. 

Serious Injury

The prevention of serious injury within a commercial building begins with robust health and safety policies and regular risk assessments. However, regardless of precautions, accidents can happen. When it comes to severe injuries, time is of the essence; hence, incidents should be reported and responded to as soon as possible. Medical attention should be provided immediately, and the surroundings should be thoroughly assessed to prevent further harm.

Following the incident, workplace accident compensation claims should be dealt with seriously and efficiently. Failure to help the victim(s) with their claim could be detrimental to the company's future. 

Flooding and Severe Weather

Floods are one of the most common weather-related natural disasters that affect residential and commercial buildings worldwide. The after-effects of flooding can be devastating, including damage to property and the spreading of waterborne diseases like cholera. However, the immediate impacts of flooding are by far the most significant, such as injury and loss of human life.

In the event of a flood, your workplace must be evacuated safely and efficiently in accordance with emergency service advice, moving all employees, customers and service users to higher ground. The high cost of clean-up and repairs following a flood makes it vital for any business to have a flood insurance policy to recover the costs of damaged items.

While flooding is a significant example of a severe weather-related natural disaster that is cause for concern regarding agriculture, civil engineering and public health, there are other forms of extreme weather to consider. Thunderstorms, hail, blizzards and high winds can all result in damage to your property and its contents, not to mention the well-being of your employees. Robust emergency plans should be in place to prepare for weather-related emergencies - this may involve first aid training, egress plans and the installation of emergency lighting. 

Hazardous Substances

Commercial buildings and public spaces such as construction sites and hospitals must have hazardous substance management plans to ensure the safe storage, usage and disposal of various chemicals and other harmful materials. That said, dangerous substances like cleaning chemicals can be found in most workspaces. Leaks and spillages can leave an establishment unstable for long periods of time, as exposure to hazardous substances can cause injury, illness and long-term effects such as respiratory issues. 


By law, every workplace and public space should have a fire safety policy. This includes precautions and risk assessments to help reduce the initial threat of a fire, commercial fire alarm installation and the presence of fire-fighting equipment like fire extinguishers and sprinklers. 

While some fires are small and manageable, they can spread, posing a risk to human life and property. Following the discovery of a fire within the workplace, immediate action is required. Everybody in the building should be made aware of the hazard so they can follow the correct egress procedures in a calm and orderly manner while the appropriate emergency services are notified. Once met at the fire assembly point, a member of management or the official for fire safety regulations can check everybody is accounted for. 

Workplace Violence

Verbal abuse, threats and physical altercations all constitute workplace violence. In the case of workplace violence, either perpetrated by employees or members of the public, those in managerial positions should act quickly to diffuse the situation before anybody is seriously harmed. It may also be necessary to familiarise staff members with de-escalation techniques and establish a clear and robust workplace violence policy.

Regardless of the type of incident, there are often severe consequences that can affect workplace morale and employee well-being; therefore, support should be provided to those directly involved and witnesses. This might involve medical care and access to counselling services. It may also be necessary to consider structural changes to the premises and revisions of safety procedures to avoid future incidents.