Construction sites need to plan for all types of pitfalls, and a key part of this is having an emergency response plan. Should a serious event occur, you’ll need to have emergency measures that help your business to deal with the impact. Floods and extreme weather conditions can affect how you do this, but it’s not just environmental factors that can impact your project. The HSE states that you should have measures in place to prepare for emergencies involving:

  • Explosions
  • Poisoning
  • Electrocution
  • Fire damage
  • Radioactive release
  • Chemical spillages

That’s where your construction emergency action plan comes in. Risk needs to be managed properly to protect members of the public, employees, and emergency services personnel. In this blog post, we’ll explore what emergency procedures you should have to help protect your construction site.

Preparing your employees in the event of an emergency

Nobody wants to be involved in an emergency, but sometimes, things happen that can’t be helped. On construction sites, there is an increased risk due to the nature of the work environment. By developing an emergency response plan, calmness and clarity can help ease concerns for employees and protect your business.

So, what’s the best approach to take to achieve this? In the event of an emergency, prompt action and timely responses are essential. Here are some top tips to make sure your employees are well-prepared:

  • Thorough training is given to all employees to make them aware of the measures to take in the event of an emergency.
  • Carry out frequent dummy drills that imitate an emergency event to help employees stay prepared.
  • Define roles and responsibilities that are agreed, recorded and assigned to individuals.
Group training for construction

How to manage risk when developing your construction emergency response plan

Structuring your emergency action plan for a construction site requires many different considerations. Would the measures you take in the event of a flood be the same as a fire breaking out for example? Whilst your response plan should follow a rounded structure, an agile and flexible plan that can be adapted to different scenarios is key.

In serious emergencies, you’ll likely need to coordinate with emergency services. Does your emergency response plan factor this in, and how do their emergency procedures tie in with yours? Consulting with emergency personnel at the outset of a project helps you cover all bases and understand what to include when developing your plan.

Planning for uncontrollable events

Whilst every effort should be made to address all risks, sometimes events occur that simply can’t be controlled. In the UK, whilst we’re fortunate in escaping the wrath of destructive weather events like hurricanes and tornados, flash flooding and heavy downpours can still wreak havoc for construction projects.

Meeting compliance with the ISO 14001 Standard requires a clearly outlined emergency response plan that includes contingencies and preparedness ahead of an adverse weather event. The three aspects you should consider when drawing up your response plan are:

  • Impact – Assess the working conditions and equipment used on the construction site or throughout the project. Is there an increased risk of hazards or damage?
  • Control – Whilst you may not be able to control the elements, you can control how prepared your site is ahead of any expected adverse weather conditions.
  • Significance – You should tailor your response plan to prepare for a major incident depending on the significance of the event. A severe storm may cause significant damage so if you’re not adequately prepared for all eventualities, this can cause issues for your project.

What procedures should be included in a construction emergency action plan?

Your emergency response plan should be designed to minimise the impact of incidents when they do occur. Each procedure you include needs to consider the impact and reducing risk as the core aims. Think of your emergency action plan as the core communication method too. Clear instructions require a rapid and effective response that all parties can adhere to in an instant. This is what your emergency response plan for a construction site may look like:

  • Site information – A detailed overview of the construction project, the size, the location and setting, the use of equipment and any hazards that need to be considered.
  • Roles and responsibilities – Every person should know exactly what role they need to carry out in an emergency. First aiders, site supervisors, fire safety marshalls – everybody should know their role and what function they should carry out when an emergency situation arises.
  • Evacuation procedures – Safe and prompt evacuation is of the utmost importance. You can preempt weather events to an extent through weather forecasts. But if a fire or serious injury suddenly happens, then your evacuation procedures need to be flexible so you can adapt to any situation you’re presented with.
  • Communication protocols – Whilst you should brief everybody in advance and have carried out training and drills, you may need to communicate on-site suddenly. Consider the use of walkie-talkies, radios, and alarm systems to alert people across your site.
  • Hazard controls – All construction sites contain many hazards, so the need for mitigation measures is crucial. Detail how you will manage construction site hazards safely and how you will respond to incidents where hazards are involved.
  • Fire safety – You should already have pre-existing fire safety measures, but the severity of a blaze may require additional measures, such as emergency response and evacuation. Safety signs should be located throughout the site and a contingency in the event of a serious fire should be included in your action plan procedures.
  • Compliance with legal standards – Does your emergency action plan meet the criteria set out in legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015?

After completing and finalising all procedures, you should always review and monitor your action plan in response to an incident. Are there things that didn’t work and could they be modified for future events? Perhaps you even test this on-site and make changes based on the findings of a training drill?

Develop an emergency action plan for your construction site with our assistance

Emergency responses are important, and we hope our guidance has helped. If you’re looking for further advice, you’re in the right place. We can offer your business tailored support and checks to ensure your emergency response plan meets Health & Safety compliance. Our Worksafe PQQ package covers Health & Safety but also helps you meet compliance requirements for environmental factors and quality management.

We also offer SSIP Accreditation packages for contractors and businesses, offering you quick and easy certification. You’ll be able to demonstrate your Health & Safety commitments to clients and customers, and you’ll gain access to our advice lines and online resources.

So, request a quote today by filling out our enquiry form. Alternatively, you can contact us and our team of experts will be able to offer any advice or further information on our range of solutions.