April 28, 2013
In the wake of the many violent events that occurred not only in Boston, but also consider the arrests of the terrorists in Toronto and Montreal, the violent robbery and shooting at a Toronto bank, and sexual assaults at a Toronto community college demonstrate that violent acts can occur anywhere.
In any emergency or business interruption, the dentist has a responsibility to ensure the safety of his/her employees, patients and the public. Dental offices need to be prepared to manage emergencies and business interruptions to minimize loss and inconvenience to all concerned.
What is a declared emergency? A “declared emergency” means an emergency declared under section 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and includes a quarantine declared by a Medical Officer of Health under the Health Promotion and Protection Act. An emergency includes any unforeseen occurrence, such as fire, power failures, bomb threats, armed attacks, toxic spills, natural disasters, accidents, injuries, or other business interruptions which result in a partial or total shutdown of business operations.
Every dental office should establish an Emergency Management Team (EMT), comprised of at least one representative from each of management, the Joint Health and Safety Committee or Health and Safety Representative, to be responsible for assessing risks to the dental office, its employees, equipment and data, and for developing strategies and procedures to minimize and/or prevent losses from the identified risks.
The responsibilities Emergency Management Team should include conducting a risk assessment and business impact analysis of the office and its susceptibility to declared emergencies, other emergency situations and serious business interruptions. They should develop and publish an emergency plan and ensure the dentist and employees are trained and knowledgeable about the plan. In conjunction with fire and safety professionals, plan fire safety and evacuation procedures for all employees, and patients. Ensure that all employees, including co-op students and temporary personnel are trained in those procedures.
It is important to ensure that all employees have easy and rapid access to emergency telephone contact numbers. Involve the computer support technicians to ensure the security of computer systems and data, using anti-virus, firewall and back-up procedures. This includes ensuring that all employees, who have access to computers, are properly trained to perform any necessary procedures to maintain data security, i.e. having off site backups. Protect your business by collecting essential data regarding business equipment, finance and banking arrangements, computer systems, suppliers, patients, and key personnel in order to create a disaster management package so that you can recover quickly and get your dental office up and running again in a timely manner.
The Emergency Management Team should ensure that there is an adequate emergency supplies are on hand at the work place and establish strategies for communicating relevant information about an emergency or business interruption to employees and patients. The EMT should determine and implement strategies to minimize risk to employees, patients and the public during an emergency situation; and communicate with local authorities to maintain the most current information available on the status of a declared emergency.
Health Related Emergencies
There is a great deal of concern in the health community about the bird flu that is currently impacting some areas of China, also known as H7N9. Many health care professionals have expressed concern about this becoming a pandemic. Although we hope for the best outcome, it’s important to be prepared for the worst.
In the event of a declared emergency which is health-related, the dentist must reserve the right to place any employee on mandatory leave if the employee attends at the workplace after being exposed to an individual with an illness or disease related to the declared emergency or the employee shows symptoms associated with the declared emergency. The employee will be required to remain on leave until he or she can produce a doctor’s certificate stating that the employee is fit to work. Employees are expected to follow procedures established by the EMT in order to reduce the spread in the workplace of any infectious disease or illness, including, but not limited to, hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette. Determining protocols for enhanced cleanliness practices at the workplace during a health-related emergency or a health quarantine
An employee may be entitled to unpaid emergency leave for the duration of a declared emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Any emergency leave taken under this provision is in addition to any personal emergency leave to which the employee may be entitled.
Most dental offices will never experience business interruptions due to a declared emergency, but should emergency occur, it is important to have protocols and procedures in place which help to protect the health and safety of employees, patients, and the public, to prevent damage to business assets, and to minimize business losses stemming from unforeseen events, civil emergencies and business interruptions. The Emergency Management Team should review and update emergency plan(s) at least once each year, and make any changes deemed necessary.
For more information or a sample policy and procedure that covers Declared Emergencies and Business Interruptions, please feel free to send an email to email@example.com with the subject line “Declared Emergencies.”
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