Prepared for emergencies

Monday, 12 December, 2016

Fed Square is a unique public space in Melbourne that hosts more than 2000 events per year, encompasses 35 tenancies, has over 20,000 contractor visits per year and attracts around 10 million visitors annually. Emergency management and associated training for all stakeholders is therefore essential for safe site operations.

Fed Square recognises the importance of operating and managing an effective emergency plan that remains relevant and current in the modern emergency management climate. The key to ensuring that an Emergency Control Organisation operates effectively is to ensure that all stakeholders receive regular training so that procedures can be put into practice at a moment’s notice.

Historically, training had been delivered to stakeholders in a classroom environment; however, this was problematic due to the operational demands of the site whereby people aren’t always available to attend training sessions.

Recognising the need to make training available to a wide range of users and be flexible enough that sessions could be completed anywhere and anytime, Fed Square developed an online OH&S Warden Training module. This involved a review of existing face-to-face content and a transition to material that was suitable for the online environment. The revised content included information on the site emergency plan that included details of specific procedures through text, pictures, videos and questions to test competency.

Following a successful trial, the training module was released across the precinct to all staff, tenants and resident contractors in December 2014. In the first full year of online training (2015/16) there was a 58% increase in the number of people completing sessions.

Fed Square has now conducted a number of site-wide exercises enabling the precinct to be better prepared for safety and security situations. These exercises have been observed by a number of similar organisations and authorities who have used these as a model for similar operations elsewhere. Preparation for exercises has been aided by the content covered in the online OH&S Warden Training module, which provides training and instruction for participants.

Fed Square constantly conducts regular exercises to test and refine emergency management practices, which involves a multitude of different site stakeholders and other precinct partners eg, stadiums, universities, arts facilities, public transport, etc. It shares its successes as well as areas for improvement so that other organisations can work to improve their own emergency management methodologies. The organisation’s continued collaboration with emergency services agencies has allowed information to be shared to improve preparedness and integrate practices to ensure that real-world situations have been well practised.

At a local level, Fed Square works closely with its tenancies to prepare and inform them of best practice emergency management, which is backed up by giving them access to site-specific emergency management training via the online OH&S Warden Training module. Having an adaptable online module allows information to be shared with a broad range of stakeholders, which can be updated at short notice to ensure it remains current and relevant.

The Fed Square team’s efforts have recently been recognised at the Facilities Management Awards for Excellence 2016 presented by the Facility Management Association of Australia. The team won the Occupant Safety & Wellbeing Award for its Online OH&S Warden Training initiative, and also won the Sustainability & Environmental Impact Award for its Carbon Neutral achievement.

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