Earthquakes, fires, floods, industrial accidents, and violence all affect the workplace. Being prepared to respond as soon as an incident occurs can be very important. That's why it's useful to prepare your people by having an evacuation plan for employees, visitors, and contractors on a worksite.
Plans, training, drills, and digital systems that can help facilitate the evacuation of people on your site to safety are increasingly saving lives. But while OSHA specifies that most businesses need an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) in place, many workplaces are still not prepared for an emergency evacuation. But the tools integrated into Sine's visitor management system can potentially be useful in assisting in the increasingly important process called "employee mustering" (or "emergency mustering").
Employee mustering systems usher your employees, visitors, and contractors to safety during emergency situations. Ideally, they allow building or safety managers to keep track of the people who enter a building or worksite and provide an accurate and up-to-date list of who is present and where they're located as soon as an emergency scenario occurs. And as you might imagine, this type of system doesn't work well with paper sign-in sheets or evacuation routes simply posted on the wall.
Emergency mustering systems can utilize VMS tools such as employee and guest check-in data, tracking information, and emergency SMS messaging in order to:
A crucial part of employee mustering is creating an evacuation point/safe meet-up space, aka a muster station. Ideally, this is where employees will head as soon as they're alerted to an emergency. These stations may be permanent installations, or they may be mobile and change depending on the emergency. Potential mustering points are typically identified during risk assessments and forming emergency response plans, and they need to be easily identifiable to workers and visitors either through signage or wayfinding technology.
Performing safety drills is a crucial part of your emergency planning. But in a true emergency, people may not always remember their training, or some mustering stations may be compromised. The benefit of having a portable electronic mustering solution is that it can be set up immediately in the aftermath of a crisis, and tools from your visitor management system (such as automatic alerts via SMS) can guide employees, customers, visitors, contractors, and others to the safest possible place in that moment.
There are emergencies we may be able to foresee and prepare for (such as the approach of a wildfire or an earthquake in an area prone to them). Businesses that deal with hazardous materials will typically have emergency plans in case of leaks or blasts. In these cases, mustering systems help facilitate an emergency response plan and provide occupants with the tools to locate a safe space.
Back in 2014, a survey found that 92% of Americans had lived through a natural disaster, yet 90% had never practiced an evacuation plan. Fast forward to 2021, when disaster events were at their highest in a decade and cost the U.S. $112.5 billion in addition. Floods topped the list of disasters. But in the workplace, events like fires were on the rise. The National Fire Protection Agency reported a 13% increase in workplace fire incidents in 2020 (totaling 111,000 fires).
While OSHA has guidelines on emergency preparedness, not every incident can be predicted. But that doesn't mean safety managers can't prepare. Employee mustering can also be used to deliver information to smartphones and devices that people look to first when a crisis occurs.
The best emergency preparedness plans involve clear evacuation plans, practice drills to ensure people know how to exit a building safely, and knowledge of both emergency meeting points and all-clear signals.
For organizations that have already invested in a visitor management system, such as Sine's, employee mustering becomes much more straightforward since the tools are already in place.
Here's what Sine offers safety and building managers who are trying to integrate emergency mustering into safety and security plans:
Employee mustering systems are an integral part of emergency evacuations because they help employers and building managers communicate with employees and visitors when emergencies hit and usher people to safety and ensure no one is left behind.
In order to safely and effectively employ an emergency mustering system, you need a way to track visitors electronically. That's where Visitor Management Systems (VMS) can help. In addition to processing visitors and collecting information to keep buildings safe and efficient, a VMS can help your organization digitize your employee mustering system to get the most out of your investment.