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The Benefits of a Text System of Emergency Notifications for Business

An effective system of emergency notifications for business can make a big difference to mitigating the impact of an emergency and recovering from it.

Many businesses are required to develop an Emergency Action Plan, either under OSHA §1910.38 or under state regulations. The action plan has to cover procedures for reporting an emergency, organizing an evacuation, and accounting for employees after an evacuation. It also has to address the procedures to be followed by employees who do not evacuate in order to maintain critical facility operations, and by employees performing rescue or medical duties.

Even if a business is not required to develop an Emergency Action Plan, it is still a good idea to follow the OSHA guidelines, as these have been developed to minimize injuries and loss of life, mitigate the impact of an emergency, and help businesses recover from an emergency incident as quickly as possible. However, what the OSHA standard doesn´t provide advice about is the best way to alert employees to an emergency, organize an evacuation, and account for employees after the evacuation.

The Many Types of Emergency Notifications for Business

There are many types of emergency notifications for business ranging from fire alarms to digital signage systems. Some businesses also take advantage of mobile technology to send employees text alerts by SMS. In many respects text alerts can be more effective as they allow emergency managers to describe the nature of the emergency and the actions employees should take – i.e. fire = evacuate, active shooter = run and hide, chemical hazard = close doors and windows, etc.

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The text system of emergency notifications for business records delivery rates and open rates, so can be used by emergency managers to determine who has received the notifications and who still has to be accounted for. Because of the two-way capabilities of SMS texting, the system can also be used to communicate with employees who have not evacuated in order to maintain critical facility operations, and to organize employees or first responders engaged in rescue and medical duties.

Implementing a Text System of Emergency Notifications

Implementing a text system of emergency notifications for business is a much simpler process than installing fire alarms or digital signage (although these should still be implemented when required by law or determined by a risk assessment). Businesses contact a software service provider and subscribe to their emergency notification platform. The platform is populated by integrating it with an existing HR database and synchronized frequently to ensure contact information is kept up to date.

To best prepare for any incident, emergency managers can compose emergency notifications and follow-up messages in advance and store them as templates. This means there are no delays in sending emergency notifications and employees has the opportunity to take the appropriate action as quickly as possible. It also eliminates the scenario in which notifications are miscommunicated due to the stress of the situation. The quicker and clearer the notification, the less likelihood of injury or loss of life.

Segmenting a Database and Recovering from an Emergency

The emergency notification platform also gives emergency managers the opportunity to segment the personnel database into groups according to employees´ locations, roles, or other attributes. This has the advantage of communicating emergency notifications for business to only the group(s) of employees affected by the incident in order to minimize business disruption. Segmenting a database can also have benefits in staging a unit-by-unit evacuation if the impact of an emergency is spreading as it develops.

With less business disruption, it should be possible to recover quicker from an emergency incident. Nonetheless, if the business needs to operate additional hours or quickly fill shift vacancies due to employees being injured, the platform can also be used to solicit availability for overtime among employees within the relevant groups. The two-way capabilities of emergency notifications for business will help shift managers fill vacancies quicker than any other form of communication.