Workplace Solutions Emergency response planning Facility safety

Planning for emergency communications

How can mass notification and critical event management solutions work together to create safer work environments?


Responding is Paul Shain, president and CEO, Singlewire Software, Madison, WI.

As employers continue to try to find ways to enhance safety in their facilities, it’s becoming more evident that piecemeal solutions addressing different areas of concern aren’t always as effective as intended. When an emergency occurs, each different component needs to be activated, making it more likely that a critical step ends up getting missed. This can have a significant impact on whether everyone stays safe.

Organizations also are realizing that it’s not enough to simply send out an alert about an emergency. They need dynamic solutions that help them manage an incident from start to finish.

That’s why many employers are turning to mass notification solutions that offer critical event management capabilities to help streamline their emergency response plans. With a mass notification system, organizations can reach all of their people with critical safety messages and automate response plans. This cuts down on the time it takes to alert everyone about a situation and makes vital safety resources readily available in a single location.

Organizations can develop scenarios for any type of emergency they might encounter, whether it’s a violent intruder, a medical emergency or severe weather. Each scenario can have prewritten messages as well as designated groups and areas for those messages – from an initial alert to an “all clear” message letting people know normal operations have resumed. The messages can be sent via text and audio, along with visual cues such as flashing lights to desk phones, desktop computers, digital signage, speakers and mobile devices. Using multiple delivery methods helps ensure no one misses a message.

Mass notification systems also offer a wide range of triggers so the alerting process can begin the moment someone notices an incident occur. Panic buttons, wearable devices, mobile apps, sensors and monitored feeds all can be used to simplify the alerting process. With the push of a button or meeting certain predetermined criteria, notifications can be sent with minimal effort so more time can be spent responding and less time needs to be spent activating systems.

While messages are being broadcast, the organization’s leaders can use critical event management features to respond to an event as it unfolds. Resources such as safety checklists, floor plans and links to security camera feeds can help carry out an effective response that keeps people out of harm’s way and minimizes downtime. Notifications can also be sent to select team members to invite them to a virtual collaboration space or conference call. This helps gather key stakeholders quickly so the right people can assess the situation and determine the best course of action.

Real-time insights can also be gathered to understand how effective notifications were in reaching their intended audience. Some notifications can ask for recipients to respond to indicate whether people are safe or need assistance. All of the information from an event can be gathered into a report that organizations can review post-incident to understand what parts of their plan worked and what can be improved.

With everything a workplace needs in a single solution, organizations can deliver a more effective emergency response to provide a safe environment for their workers.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)