Emergency Notification Systems and Crisis Communication – Blog

Mass Notification Systems for Manufacturing & Distribution Centers

Juliet Hulse By Juliet Hulse

Manufacturers have some of the most stringent worker safety standards of any industry. The government regulations are rigorous, including those under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Given the inherent risks and dangers within manufacturing facilities – from electrical to chemical to nuclear – safety managers must have a crisis communication solution and company mass notification system that is purpose-built to save lives and prevent injuries.

 

Manufacturing facilities aren’t simply an office building where your employees spend the majority of their time in front of their desktop computers. These are multi-facility entities that consist of many buildings. There’s often storage facilities, production facilities, office buildings, equipment facilities, distribution centers, and more. Hard hats and safety gear are required more often than not.

 

With so many moving parts, there are bound to be all sorts of emergency incidents that occur. Whether that be weather-related events, active intruders, workplace injuries, or medical emergencies. It is the responsibility of the organization to keep their constituents out of harm’s way and informed of emergencies. Under OSHA, all employers are required to provide a safe workplace free from recognized hazards. With the goal of reducing the severity of workplace accidents and injuries by ensuring systems and procedures are in place to alert employees to workplace emergencies.

 

Operational concerns take center stage during crisis situations. Especially, when some parts of the facilities must be running 24/7 with members of the team always onsite or traveling between sites. The manner in which your organization responds to such events can have a profound effect on the outcome of the emergency situation and on you, personally. How your organization responds may spell the difference between life or death. It is crucial to avoid additional downstream consequences for your organization like lost shareholder value, regulatory penalties, and civil liability.

 

It is much simpler to alert every person when people are contained to one building. You send a text and email, have an automated voice call on their office phone, and even take over their desktops with a notification. With the manufacturing industry taking so many different forms of facilities and workspaces - with such a transient group of people - it can be arduous to reach every single person at every single location.

 

The Mosaic Company, with offices and mining shafts, spread across the United States knew they needed a better way to communicate with their staff - especially those that are underground in mines. Mosaic’s emergency response team leader placed emergency communications as a top priority and from there they set off to find a solution that would work for them and their unique situation.

 

Omnilert’s emergency notification system (ENS) allowed them to alert all of their staff — no matter where they might be across the U.S. They now had the ability to send alerts through more than just a text, email, or landline. They found comfort in knowing there is a reliable communications system that could reach everyone within their organization — even in cases when mobile phones had only half a bar of service or employees were located 25 feet below grade.

 ManufacturingMen

 

Mosaic’s production manager was also enthused that he could control everyday operations with greater efficacy, resulting in major monetary payoffs. Instead of being unable to reach workers at an inactive mine monitored through one of the many video feeds streamed into the operations centers, the foreman could quickly and reliably contact those employees and relocate them to a site that was operational. With the ability to manage so effectively through the new communications solution, the production manager was able to save thousands of dollars per hour worth of lost productivity.

 

It’s not only about ensuring that each of your staff and contractors get an alert. It’s just as important to ensure they know what actions should be taken when the emergency happens. Because of the transient population of workers, contractors, and visitors at manufacturing facilities, you must be certain that you include actions to be taken with each unique emergency situation. Adopting an ENS with functionality like Scenarios® allows you to break your organization into groups which helps to ensure each group gets the correct, unique information they need for their location and situation. This allows you to tell your staff inside the distribution center to stay inside while at the same time informing the equipment center to take shelter indoors. With proper planning and then a push of a button, different groups, locations, and connected devices can receive specific actions and guidance. For instance:

 

  • - Send custom text alerts, emails, and voice messages to each group or location
  • - Display a scrolling message and initiate audible alerts on all desktops
  • - Send audible and visual alerts to fire alarms, alert beacons, or PA systems
  • - Initiate an outbound conference call to automatically connect your emergency response team
  • - Use your organization's app to alert via push alerts
  • - Notify local first responders

 

  • Having a mass notification system that allows you to send alerts through multiple channels to notify your people is the only option. When you have different workers and visitors in your manufacturing facility each day - no matter where the facilities are located - there’s no other choice. You will not reach each person with just a text message or email. Each individual comprehends information differently, so sending alerts through multiple avenues they will understand is critical:

 

  • - Emails/Texts;
  • - PA Systems;
  • - Strobe Lights;
  • - Digital Signage;
  • - Audible and Visual Alarm Systems.
  • - Emergency Notification Apps;
  • - Landline Phones; and
  • - Social Media Posts.

 

  • Communication is key. Having everyone at your organization registered to receive these notifications and guidance is critical - and baseline. Notifications and guidance together is vital. Your people will be better prepared if they understand what is going on and if they receive actions to follow. You will also reinforce your people’s appreciation by proving you have their best interest in mind.


    You can’t always predict or prevent threats to or violent acts by employees, contractors, customers, or strangers on your property, but you can plan to limit the impact through an emergency response plan. In addition to the potential injury or loss of life, workplace violence costs businesses significant losses in productivity due to the anxiety and grief that is common after an event. Employers have a general obligation to do everything that is reasonably necessary to protect employees, including the adoption of best practices and technologies that create a safe and secure workplace. By sending Omnimodal notifications in a timely manner, along with the associated procedures for employees to follow, you can be better prepared and limit the potential impact of an emergency.

 

The best crisis response is one that relies more on automation than on the human touch. People are especially fallible during high-stress events like crises, so it’s imperative to pursue the most ideal form of response — the automated response. The most significant innovation in crisis response technology is the ability to integrate with other independently monitored systems that can provide emergency notifications, creating an ever-more automated response - we call this Triggers™.

 

Through Triggers, you can automatically initiate specific responses based on alerts and data from a variety of integrated systems. A Trigger is a mechanism by which an ENS can send or receive a communication from an outside source. For instance, if your facility has sensors on boilers or power generators, a trigger can be established to automatically launch a series of notifications when readings are irregular. When that occurs, specific alerts are automatically sent to unique groups of people so each group knows exactly what their actions are, so they can stay informed, and remain out of harm’s way.

 

Using an ENS for emergencies in a manufacturing facility can provide better communication and therefore better performance. Deciding how to implement an ENS depends on your organization’s unique needs, but one thing is certain — when used optimally, an ENS can mitigate risk, improve business operations, reduce actual costs and lost opportunities, ensure the survival of the organization, and improve performance.

 

By investing in organizational safety through effective communications, you protect employees, visitors, and property; which can mitigate exposures and therefore any associated costs. Having a suite of communication tools at your disposal not only protects the company’s employees and assets but also provides an edge in the market.

 

Read the full story on how Mosaic uses their ENS to alert all of their employees across the U.S. using Omnimodal communications.

 

Download the Mosaic Case Study


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