Emergency Management Planning
Guidelines for developing and implementing a plan.
Yes – under the provisions of the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004 (Vic), the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic) and the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017 (Vic).
Under Victorian occupational health and safety law, employers have an obligation to provide and maintain a safe workplace. This obligation extends to all people at the workplace, whether they are employees or not. Developing an Emergency Management Plan (EMP) contributes to the duty of providing a safe working environment.
Schools are required to develop and maintain an EMP that describes actions to be taken before, during and following an emergency to ensure the ongoing safety of staff, students and others.
Schools should ensure that staff, students and the school community know what the plan contains, and through the provision of appropriate training, what they are required to do during an emergency.
School responsibilities to plan for the safety of staff and students involved in school activities extends beyond planning for events occurring under normal circumstances. All school activities, regardless of where they are to be conducted, must be planned in such a way as to ensure that the safety of staff and students is maintained, and that students are adequately supervised, even during an emergency.
A school EMP should include:
- the range of emergencies covered
- a site plan
- a general description of the school and its environment
- an assessment of risks and hazards facing the school
- roles and responsibilities of staff and others
- procedures for reporting emergencies
- procedures to be followed by staff and students during an emergency
- lockdown arrangements
- evacuation arrangements
- alternative evacuation assembly areas
- emergency services contact numbers
- measures to prevent or reduce the impact of emergencies that do occur
- arrangements for establishing recovery programs following emergencies
- consultation with relevant emergency services concerning appropriateness of the content.
Schools should also plan for influenza pandemic and fire related emergencies (particularly if the school is in a high risk area for wildfire or intends undertaking school activities in a high risk area).
Emergency procedures in school emergency management plans should be exercised on a regular basis, preferably once a term, under a variety of emergency scenarios.
Exercises should test:
- notification and reporting procedures
- roles and responsibilities of nominated personnel
- offsite and onsite evacuation and lock down alternatives
- communications within the school and to the school community
- emergency services liaison.
Schools should be aware that fire services and police can assist in training exercises and trial evacuations by acting as observers as well as assisting in the review of school emergency procedures.
A school may wish to anticipate the various critical incidents that could occur and require the implementation of the school’s emergency management policy and procedures. These incidents could occur on the school site, on camps or excursions, during or after school hours and during travel to or from school.
Incidents could include, amongst others:
- the death of a staff member or student
- serious injury or assault ( or threat) of a staff member of student
- the disappearance of a student
- damage to the school premises
- bomb threat
- contamination by hazardous material
- flood, storm or any other natural event
- outbreak of disease
- motor vehicle collision
- witnessing traumatic events, and
- siege, hostage or use of fire arms.
For each of the above critical incidents, a school might like to specify the relevant procedures and staff from the emergency management plan to respond to the incident.
You may be in breach of the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004 (Vic).
You may also be in breach of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic.) and the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2007 (Vic.). Non-compliance with the minimum standards for school registration could result in the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA):
- imposing conditions on a school’s registration
- prohibiting a school from enrolling any new students
- requiring the school to report its non-compliance to parents
- suspending, cancelling or imposing conditions on a school’s registration.
- ISV: Risk Management Process
- ISV: Security Risk Management
- Country Fire Authority
- Vic DET: School Policy and Advisory Guide – Emergency Management Planning (note that some of the references apply only to government schools)
- Vic DET: Emergencies and Natural Disasters: Crisis Management Manual
- Department of Health: Flu Pandemic
- Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet: The National Action plan for Human Influenza Pandemic
- Department of Health: Travel Health Information