When the wind builds and adrenaline rushes in, logical decision-making can be extremely difficult. The best way to handle any emergency is to design a plan, rehearse the plan, know the plan and follow the plan.
When you work in construction and are constantly exposed to weather conditions, planning for the unexpected is essential. According to UCSB Science Line, approximately 1,000 tornados occur each year in the US alone. If your well-studied safety manual doesn’t already include a game plan for potential disasters, it’s time to create one.
To prevent unnecessary loss of life, develop and communicate strategies for securing proper shelter, prioritizing worker accountability and maneuvering hazardous materials. Prepare for the unpredictable and take responsibility for your laborers’ safety. Whether you’re working on a construction site or at home, these tips will greatly reduce risks. For further disaster safety advice, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.
- Secure Proper Shelter
Though this may sound obvious, it's good to keep know your priorities forwards and backwards. Seeking safe shelter should always be the first move as soon as a tornado warning has been signaled. Underground locations such as basements and cellars are your best option; however, if unavailable, here are some factors to consider in selecting a safe shelter.
- Avoid windows and flat, wide-span roofs.
- Avoid places with exterior walls.
- Choose tornado doors for emergency shelter.
- Seek interior rooms and hallways on ground floors.
- Seek structures built with reinforced concrete, bricks or blocks.
Additionally, to reduce property damage in case of breakout fires, be sure all commercial doors meet fire-rating guidelines.
- Ensure Worker Accountability
When the winds get strong and blood pressure gets high, communication is key. Consider creating a roster or sign-in sheet for personnel tracking. Practice regular emergency drills to ensure effective exit routes and safety strategies for your crew. Here are some ideas to consider when designing your game plan.
- Utilize an alarm system to signal tornado warnings. Test function regularly.
- Make escape simple with posted signs of guidelines, shelter locations and exit routes.
- Designate a safety leader and delegate individual responsibilities. Create redundancy in responsibilities to ensure completion in difficult situations.
- Keep a personnel roster in each shelter location for safety assurance.
- Always have a Plan B and Plan C for alternate situations and conditions.
- Regularly hold trainings and drills for maximum employee safety.
- Organize Regrouping
Once the storm passes and everyone breathes a sigh of relief, remember to stay on high alert for potential post-tornado hazards. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 50% of tornado injuries happen during cleanup and recovery after the fact. It’s especially important to learn correct methods for maneuvering hazardous materials such as electrical wiring, heated metals and sharp debris. Your tornado emergency safety plan should include a section on handling these hazardous materials, and each employee should be evaluated for proper technique utilization.
To further reduce property damage and reconstruction costs, it’s important to plan for safe and sound structures. From flooring and roofing to bathrooms and doors, be sure to utilize quality, tornado-safe materials.