Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Do you have a workplace emergency action plan?

Yesterday’s tragedy in Boston has left me speechless. I’m frankly not sure what to say, other than I’m sick of these horrible events; what to think, other than to offer prayers; or what to feel, other than sadness for those affected.

We will search for answers (How could this happen? Who could do such a thing? How can anyone be capable of such hatred or ignorance? How do we prevent it from happening yet again?) Yet, from this tragedy we can take away one certainty—that no one can predict when or where tragedy will strike, and it pays to be prepared for the worst. Boston seems to have been prepared, and at least by early accounts, the city’s early responders helped save many from suffering a worse fate.

Employers can learn an important lesson from these ashes and tears—the importance of being prepared. OSHA publishes a booklet entitled, How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations. Not all employers are required to follow it, but all employers should heed its words by taking steps to prepare for the worst.

As OSHA explains it:

Nobody expects an emergency or disaster—especially one that affects them, their employees, and their business personally. Yet the simple truth is that emergencies and disasters can strike anyone, anytime, and anywhere. You and your employees could be forced to evacuate your company when you least expect it.… The best way to protect yourself, your workers, and your business is to expect the unexpected and develop a well-thoughtout emergency action plan to guide you when immediate action is necessary.… Few people can think clearly and logically in a crisis, so it is important to do so in advance, when you have time to be thorough. Brainstorm the worst-case scenarios. Ask yourself what you would do if the worst happened.

You cannot control the idiocy of others, but you can control whether you know how to respond if it happens.

I’ll leave you with the words of stand-up comic and actor Patton Oswald, who, on his Facebook page, held out hope for humanity’s inherent goodness, and perhaps made the most poignant statement in the wake of yesterday’s horrors:

Boston. F*cking horrible.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”

But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”