The Alarm Just Went Off…Now What?

| October 15, 2009

There seems to be a renewed interest in metrics, measuring and monitoring within OH&S management systems.  Given the advances in continuous monitoring technology, this interest often translates into the installation of a host of different monitoring devices with alarms – fire detection alarms, security alarms, gas detection alarms, motion sensor alarms, electrical current alarms, high level alarms, low level alarms, entry alarms, exit alarms, etc. 

One of the challenges associated with all of these alarms – “What are you supposed to do when the alarm goes off?”

Since my husband is at the top of the call list when an alarm goes off at his facility, I am only too familiar with this question – particularly since the “alarm alert” often occurs in the wee hours of the morning  (as it did this morning).  I can tell you attempting to answer the “now what?” question at 4 am is no fun.

One of the important tasks associated with implementing an OH&S management system is making sure there are thought out, agreed upon, documented and acceptable answers to all the “now what” questions.  In determining the “acceptability” of the answers agreed upon, it is important to consider of the views and needs of multiple stakeholders –

  • The views and needs of the individual(s) who are required to answer the calls in the middle of the night (as well as the other members of their households whose sleep is disrupted).
  • The views and needs of the individual(s) who are required to physically respond to alarms – including the need for specialized training and PPE.
  • The views and needs of those who will have to deal with the public relations issues if an alarm triggers a “911” call for emergency services.
  • The views and requirements of insurers if alarms are ignored because of frequent false alarms.
  • The views and needs of individuals who are relying on alarms to protect their safety or property.
  • The views and needs of the individuals who have the responsibility of keeping the alarms working right.

Putting in alarms is fine…just make sure there are plans in place for when they go off.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2009)

Category: Emergency Preparedness, OHS Metrics & Measurements

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