Preparedness Is The Key To Prevention

Five years ago, I attended a conference workshop on “Disaster Planning” for small businesses.  I hadn’t planned on being in the seminar, but the material was compelling and I made a note to speak with the CEO of our company when I returned to work so that we could discuss the topic.  I had been with the small business a few years and was fairly certain we did not have any type of response plan in place. Then again, we were located in an area that is not at-risk for natural disasters. We would get around to it.

Less than 30 days after I returned from the conference, our city faced one of the largest wild fires to engulf a community in our state’s history. Our workplace was evacuated by local authorities for nearly a week.  We had our building and equipment to consider, employee instructions and communications about day-to-day tasks off-site as well as how to meet our customers’ needs without any plan in place. Talk about “trial by fire” …. we quite literally had to wing-it as we went.

This was a lesson learned in planning (or lack thereof) and how to consider all the angles and solutions to what could possibly go wrong.

No matter the safety subject, preparedness is the key to prevention. While we can read the manuals and updates from various expert agencies, it’s really the role-playing and table-top practice drills that help us to think through the unexpected.

After all, it’s the unanticipated circumstances that often trip us up.

An example practice scenario could go something like this:

You find yourself facing the need to conduct a Reasonable Suspicion drug test on an employee who is becoming a safety risk.

·       What if the employee is a supervisor? 

·       What if the individual becomes belligerent and/or violent?

·       What if this person causes a public scene and customers are involved or endangered?

·       What if an event occurs involving a company vehicle?

·       What if law enforcement becomes involved?

It would benefit your team to sit down and go through a variety of “what if’s” and determine what the proper responses should be, who will make the decisions and who will be responsible for taking action. 

This can be a fun experiment as you imagine the most outlandish possible circumstances. Fun and silly though it may seem, an exercise like this can help keep order and calm when situations arise in which you never thought you would find yourself.

Make sure you have a team that can participate together and challenge one another’s creativity.  Go through a variety of safety topics and address them with a suitable plan.  Look for helpful resources that pertain to your area of expertise.

Don’t forget to plan a safety drill day to increase your employees’ awareness of what their roles and responses should be in the case of an emergency.

Here is a useful tool with templates that you may find helpful when trying to expect the unexpected:

TSS Inc is here to help you consider a variety of safety scenarios and topics for preparedness, planning and prevention.  From our Safety Toolkit topics for your regularly scheduled safety meetings … to reviewing your workplace policies and implementing safety plans.  Call us at: 877-225-1431 or email us for more information at