How to Establish a Workplace Emergency Action Plan

Close-up Of Emergency Fire Exit Board

No one expects an emergency or disaster to strike but the fact of the matter is they do, usually at the most unexpected times.

Prevention is always the first step but for the unavoidable hazards, being prepared can prevent loss and save lives.

WHAT IS A WORKPLACE EMERGENCY? Any unforeseen event or situation that threatens the safety of your employees, customers or the public; causes physical or environmental damage or disrupts or shuts down operations is considered a workplace emergency. These emergencies may be man made or natural and include the following:

  • Hurricanes
  • Floods,
  • Hurricanes,
  • Tornadoes,
  • Fires,
  • Toxic gas releases,
  • Chemical spills,
  • Radiological accidents,
  • Explosions,
  • Civil disturbances
  • Active shooter
  • Workplace violence resulting in bodily harm

HOW DO YOU PROTECT YOUR EMPLOYEES AND YOUR BUSINESS? Few people can think clearly and logically in a crisis, so it is important to prepare for an emergency before it happens with an EAP. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration(OSHA) provide codes, regulations and guidance on emergency action plans, including minimum standards. According to OSHA standards a written emergency action plan is required for workplaces with 10 or more employees. If the company has less than 10 employees an emergency action plan is still required but may be verbally communicated to employees.

Has your business published an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)? Has this plan been practiced and well communicated?

EFFECTIVE EAP PLANNING Every second counts during an emergency. Planning ahead and having a well-communicated plan can make all the difference. Follow these steps when preparing your EAP.

  1. Designate a team and train them on their emergency response duties. Ensure each employee understands his or her responsibilities thoroughly. Remember to reassign these tasks if an employee leaves the company.
  2. Document emergency procedures. Each document should contain contact information for the fire department, local police an emergency services. The document should also include evacuation procedures and provide accommodations for those who need special assistance.
  • Include instructions for emergency equipment such as the alarm system and emergency power supply
  • Post fire procedures in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association.
  1. Distribute emergency procedures. Distribute the plan to all employees, vendors, contractors and emergency personnel who will be responsible for taking action, including the fire department and designated emergency team and supervisory staff. Post your evacuation diagram in clearly visible locations and assign locations away from the building or job site for employees to gather.
  2. Maintain the plan and practice regular drills. Revaluate the plan on a quarterly basis and account for any changes in personnel, floor plans and designated meeting areas.
  • Monitor and evaluate drill performance to consider effectiveness and improvements.
  • Include full, partial and shelter-in-place evacuations, designed in cooperation with authorities, to familiarize employees with procedures.
  1. Establish a roll call system to ensure all employees are accounted for during and emergency. Ensure all employee contact information and emergency contact information is up to date.

It’s not always possible to plan for an emergency but it is possible to minimize loss and save lives with an EAP. SIA Group and our trusted team of advisors are always here to help in establishing an EAP, training and much more. Contact us today! 

To view OSHA's EAP Checklist, click HERE.