Workplace Safety Evaluation

I want to start this blog off by painting a picture of something that happened to me recently.

Imagine you’re sitting in the Las Vegas McCarron International Airport.

Suddenly, the emergency siren activates. The white emergency lights that line the walls of the terminal start flashing repeatedly. Then a siren (claxon) wails for five seconds. An unseen voice from the public address systems announces, “The emergency warning has been activated. Remain calm. Stay where you are and wait for further information.”

You wait…and watch.

You notice (because you are the observant type) that none of the airport staff (clearly identifiable from their PPE and identity badges) seem bothered by the announcement. The whole process starts again. The lights flash, the siren sounds, and the voice repeats itself.

The lights then go out and the normal ‘silence’ of the terminal returns. None of the staff react. They go about their jobs seemingly oblivious to what had just happened.

You look around again and see that every passenger-type person in the terminal is looking around for guidance and awaiting ‘further information.’

Moments later, a follow-up announcement:

“The emergency activation is over. Please resume your normal activities.”

Having given countless Workplace Safety workshops, this scenario got me thinking about staff safety training.

Was the airport staff so highly trained that they knew it was important to remain calm, professional, and laissez-faire in order to keep people calm?

Or, did this sort of false alarm happen so often that they had simply become desensitized to it?

Does Your Company Promote Workplace Safety?

Which leads me to the following question: Does your company promote workplace safety?

And does that promotion result in people knowing how to prevent, reduce, and respond to safety issues within the workplace?

If that question has sent you into a panic because you aren’t sure, let me share a tool with you to uncover the answers.

Ask the next five employees that you see today in the workplace the following questions and fill in the matrix:

1 What does the fire alarm sound like in our workplace? Link to aid learning
2 Tell me how you exit the building if an emergency occurred right now (Plan A & Plan B needed) Link to aid learning
3 Where is our Muster Point for our workplace and how is it identified? Link to Aid Learning
4 Point to the nearest fire extinguisher from where you are standing now Link to Aid Learning
5 How does the fire extinguisher operate? Have you ever used one? Link to Aid Learning


6 What is in your Grab N Go bag that you have here at the workplace? Link to Aid Learning

Link to Aid Learning


How did they do?

Here in British Columbia, within the Workers Compensation Act, under Section 4.14, employers have a legal responsibility to train workers in their Emergency Procedures.

4.14 Emergency Procedures:

  • Emergency means of escape must be provided from any work area in which the malfunctioning of equipment or a work process could create an immediate danger to workers and the regular means of exit could become dangerous or unusable.
  • Emergency exit routes must be designed and marked to provide quick and unimpeded exits.
  • At least once each year emergency drills must be held to ensure awareness and effectiveness of emergency exit routes and procedures, and a record of the drills must be kept.

Useful Workplace Safety Videos

I also want to share this video as well as this one. There are lots of good lessons in there related to fire drills.

Let’s return to my airport scenario for a second.

As it turned out, the reason for the emergency alert was because a customer/passenger had leapt under a counter in an airport store after hearing what sounded like gunfire (which turned out to be a vape cigarette that had exploded).

This person had apparently stayed in his shelter for some time, reluctant to emerge into a potential active shooter event. He was eventually found hiding by a staff member of the store and his suspicious presence was reported to an airport staff member.

Thus signaling the ‘emergency warning notification.’

So, I ask again: Does your staff know what to do in an emergency?

It doesn’t matter that no one was actually in danger, what matters is that you treat any threat as if it were real.

If this had been an event in your workplace, how would you have reacted?

How would others around you have reacted?

Something to think about…and then to fix.