February is Earthquake Awareness Month, but earthquakes can happen at any time. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), 45 states and territories in the United States are at a moderate to high risk of earthquakes. The hazard is particularly high along the west coast, intermountain west, and in several areas of the midwest and eastern U.S. Employers can help keep their workers, property, and operations safe in the event of an earthquake by following these 10 tips.
10 Tips for Earthquake Safety in the Workplace
- Identify “safe places” in each room of your workplace. A safe place could be under a sturdy table or desk or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
- Practice DROP, COVER and HOLD ON in each safe place. Experts agree this is the best way to protect yourself and avoid injury during an earthquake.
- Conduct earthquake and evacuation drills regularly. Workers will be more likely to react quickly and calmly if they have practiced what to do.
- Host a viewing of the earthquake safety video series. These videos demonstrate how to protect yourself in a variety of situations.
- Discuss what not to do during an earthquake. Rescuers and experts recommend that you do not run outside or to another room, stand in a doorway, or get in the “triangle of life”.
- Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.
- Get training. Take a first aid class. Learn how to use a fire extinguisher correctly.
- Inspect your workplace for potential hazards to workers in an earthquake. Look for furniture or heavy equipment that could fall on someone, block an exit, or cause a release of hazardous materials.
- Secure your building and utility systems. For example, this might mean anchoring heavy filing cabinets to the wall or installing flexible connections on gas or water lines. The Federal Emergency Management Association offers guidelines on how to protect property during an earthquake.
- Prepare or purchase emergency supply kits and store them in shelter locations.