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Two Lessons in Emergency Planning from the Asiana Plane Crash

HNI Wisconsin President

emergency planning planeThe plane crash July 6 of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco offers great insight about emergency planning. While three people were killed in the crash, 304 survived.

Questions about what happened still are being sorted out, but it's clear the incident could have been far more tragic.

Emergency planning works for the airline industry. A National Transportation Safety Board study found that between 1983 and 2000, 95.7 percent of plane occupants survived emergency incidents. That's an incredibly safety record for a long span of time — 17 years!

How do so many people survive plane crashes, and how can this safety mind-set work in other industries? The following two cornerstones of emergency planning could be adopted by all employers:

1.) Create a Safe Environment

Say what you want about the so-called "comfort" of modern passenger planes — they're designed with emergencies in mind. And the design is working (see impressive survival rates above)!

A huge design parameter is the fact that airlines must certify that passengers can exit a plane in less than 90 seconds in an emergency. This means that interiors are clutter free and easy to navigate — features critical to a speedy exit in a chaotic emergency.

Planes' wheels are designed to break away in a crash. The fuselage (the center body of an aircraft) and seating are strong to protect passengers.

The flying environment — the aircraft — is designed for a worst-case scenario, such as what happened on Flight 214. Employers should take note that a safe work environment starts with emergency planning. Making sure equipment and space react appropriately in an emergency will help mitigate damage and keep everyone as safe as possible.

2.) Train, And Train Again in Emergency Planning

If you're a frequent flyer, you may spend the safety announcements at the beginning of flights paging through the SkyMall catalog or staring out the window. Instead of feeling bored, think about what the repetition really means.

The hope is that those directions become ingrained in passengers, so that if an emergency strikes, everyone knows how to act and where to go.

What's more, directions are shared in multiple formats. Passengers receive verbal safety instructions and a safety briefing card (tucked in the seat pocket). People have different learning styles, and different formats may help intake of emergency planning. Passengers receive emergency training many times through different formats!

The survivors of the Asiana crash possessed great awareness of what to do in an emergency. They were trained several times in simple, easy to understand ways.

At your work, do employees know what to do in an emergency? Is the emergency plan as simple as the plan for airline passengers?:

1.) Find your exit

2.) Leave your belongings behind

3.) Move as quickly as possible

Emergency planning requires foresight and sound training. The airline industry's track record of safety shows that these lessons are worth learning.


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Photo by Lodian via Flickr

Topics: Construction Transportation Safety / Compliance Manufacturing