Ethics is considered important while planning and developing a safety-first culture. Poor ethical decision-making can be defined as a nontechnical cause for dangerous and serious incidents that might be fatal to the population. Based on various studies, most of the serious incidents that have occurred in different parts of the world worsened due to poor ethical decision-making. Some of these incidents include Hurricane Katrina, the Deep Water Horizon explosion, the Piper Alpha explosion, and others, all of which worsened the impacts on the environment and the people because people did not make the right judgment calls (Watson, 2017). In the US, after realizing the importance of ethical decision-making, most of the corporates have developed a safety-first culture that outlines some of the things people must do to prevent high fatality rates once there are serious incidents. Among other things, emergency evacuation is identified to be one of the most effective ethical actions within the safety-first culture. Evacuation might be for the safety of workers or other people being involved in the incidents. This essay, therefore, reviews the importance of emergency evacuation based on ethical decision making for the environment and the development of a safety-first corporate culture.
Emergency evacuation can be defined as the escape or egress of people from an area that is termed to contain high threat or hazards to property and lives. Some of the common examples of emergency evaluation range from small-scale evacuation from buildings following fire or storms to large-scale evacuation, which mainly involves evacuation of cities and towns following things like the bombardment of weather system or even floods (Watson, 2017). In either magnitude or size of the incident, evacuations are normally very essential to save the lives of the rescue team, the population at large as well as the properties. In most cases, emergency evacuation is compulsory, but they do occur when there is a clear explanation of the potential risks in place in case of non-evacuation. As part of ethical decision-making, evacuation can only be applied to people who are willing, and in case someone refuses, the rescue worker should leave them so as to protect his or her own life and the lives of other team members (Bulumulla et al., 2017).
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The first decision during an emergency or an incident that threatens the lives of the people is to determine whether there is a need for evacuation. In most cases, when an incident occurs within a building, people start running out without any proper plan and the right information regarding their safety once they are outside (Moussaïd et al., 2016). Cases have been reported where people rushed outside only to be slain through stampede or even being exposed to higher risks. In cases of incidents like a Tornado and earthquake, people are normally advised to stay indoors rather than move out. Bearing this in mind, a well-planned emergency evacuation ensures that people are evacuated at the right time and following the right procedure to prevent adverse outcomes such as increased fatalities and destruction of property. Emergency evacuations are normally well-managed and planned. Before the call for such evacuation is made, the rescue team members are normally well-informed on the nature of the threat and the possibility of saving people through evacuation.
According to a recent study undertaken by Moussaïd et al. (2016), emergency evacuation should always involve proper initial planning, which is important in a number of ways. For instance, keeping emergency action plan on file within organizations provides people with the right information of the procedures that should be followed during evacuation thus preventing any cases where confusion can increase the risks. As indicated earlier, unorganized evacuation where people run uncontrollably might result to increased fatality rates and destruction of properties, but in a place where everybody is familiar with the right procedures to follow in case of an incident, such adverse results are normally prevented. Within an organization, the emergency action plan includes a list of leaders who make the decisions, in case of incidents, on how and whether to evacuate people or not. Such leaders are supposed to be calm and to be well-informed on every process involved in evacuation (Moussaïd et al., 2016). Within the confusion of an emergency, especially in workplaces, everybody tries to run and get out of the building or the area of the incident as soon as possible something that increases the risk of fatalities and destruction of property. It is always important for people to remain calm and be organized to ensure proper evacuation to safety. In that case, having an emergency action plan, with the leaders acknowledged helps to reduce the confusion during incidents and in most cases, contributes to saving people’s lives.
Incidents such as fire results in loss of lives and properties. Within the organizations, when incidents occur severally, employees, customers, and other stakeholders start to be apprehensive for their lives thus losing trust and loyalty towards the organization involved (Shahparvari et al., 2016). This, therefore, goes beyond the actual risk of losing properties and lives but also losing workforce and customers something that can result in the collapsing of the business that the organization was conducting. Taking the case of an oil drilling company, when it has a series of explosions, most employees and customers might start questioning the credibility of the company in assuring the safety of the workers and the environmental sustainability thus might end up drifting from the company’s operations. From this point of view, by proving an effective emergency evacuation plan, with the right procedures for saving lives, the confidence among the employees and other stakeholders involved might be restored thus preventing any adverse business outcome.
Emergency evacuations act as learning opportunities for most people. After most incidents that involved proper evacuations, people learn the importance of emergency evacuations and the right procedures that should be followed in the case such incidents occur again (Renschler et al., 2016). Emergency evacuation is easier to execute when everyone is familiar with his or her responsibilities and procedures. In that case, by clearly outlining the emergency evacuation plan that describes the actual response, the path to follow during the evacuation and when to evacuate, people learn how to make the right decisions and how to implement those decisions during incidents.
As a conclusive remark, it is clear that emergency evacuations are always necessary for the development of the safety-first corporate culture. Safety is paramount for everyone within the society. In that case, by providing emergency evacuation, such safety is always met. Effective emergency evacuation ensures that people are evacuated at the right time and following the right procedure to prevent further damages and loss of lives. Emergency evacuation plan also enlightens people on what to do in case of incidents and how to do it thus reducing cases of fatalities and destruction of properties. It also reduces confusion in case of incidents and also restores confidence among the customers and employees regarding the ability of the organization to protect their lives in case of incidents.
- Bulumulla, C., Padgham, L., Singh, D., & Chan, J. (2017, May). The importance of modelling realistic human behaviour when planning evacuation schedules. In Proceedings of the 16th Conference on Autonomous Agents and MultiAgent Systems (pp. 446-454). International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems.
- Moussaïd, M., Kapadia, M., Thrash, T., Sumner, R. W., Gross, M., Helbing, D., & Hölscher, C. (2016). Crowd behaviour during high-stress evacuations in an immersive virtual environment. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 13(122), 20160414.
- Renschler, L. A., Terrigino, E. A., Azim, S., Snider, E., Rhodes, D. L., & Cox, C. C. (2016). Employee Perceptions of Their Organization’s Level of Emergency Preparedness Following a Brief Workplace Emergency Planning Educational Presentation. Safety and health at work, 7(2), 166-170.
- Shahparvari, S., Chhetri, P., Abbasi, B., & Abareshi, A. (2016). Enhancing emergency evacuation response of late evacuees: Revisiting the case of Australian Black Saturday bushfire. Transportation research part E: logistics and transportation review, 93, 148-176.
- Watson, C. R. (2017). Risk-Based Decision Making During Public Health Emergencies Involving Environmental Contamination (Doctoral dissertation, Johns Hopkins University).