Ask Katie: What do I do about tornado season?

September 14, 2019
Katie Adams, CVPM
Katie Adams, CVPM

Katie Adams, CVPM, is owner and management consultant at Agrygation Consulting.

One manager needs to know whats required in her veterinary practice safety plan, especially with her regions biggest risk of natural disaster.

The Good Witch of Oz can't save you from OSHA requirements on safety plans for tornados and other disasters, folks. (adimas/stock.adobe.com)

Q: This time of year is famous for tornados in Texas. What is required of me from an admin standpoint in notifying employees of our safety plan?

A: OSHA requires that any organization with 11 or more employees has a written safety plan in place. This written plan should account for natural disasters as well as chemical spills, fires, intrusion from an outside source (burglar) and any other imaginable circumstance in which an evacuation or other form of emergency action may need to be taken. The plan should:

  • Describe the chain of command for notifying appropriate emergency personnel

  • List the off-site meeting location (including address) for all team members

  • Explain the method to be used to take attendance to ensure all staff members have been evacuated.

Be sure to include what needs to happen with patients in your care. Our gut reaction is often to try to save them, but the reality is that all staff members should be required to immediately exit the premises and only be permitted to re-enter the building upon approval from emergency personnel such as a police officer or firefighter.

The plan should be reviewed with team members during orientation and then bi-annually after that-unless changes are made, then it's time for another review with the whole team.

An up-to-date copy of the safety plan should be kept in a conspicuous place, such as the breakroom, for quick and easy reference.

Katie Adams, CVPM, is owner and management consultant at Agrygation Consulting.