Emergency Action Plans
Emergency Action Plans
Is your agency prepared for a workplace emergency? Does your agency have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) in place? Do your employees know escape routes and the locations of fire extinguishers and first aid kits?
Since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, these questions have been on the minds of people all over the United States. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has taken steps to clarify and define what is required under “Means of Egress and Emergency Action Plan,” Subpart E (29 CFR 1910.35 – 29 CFR 1910.38).
It is important that your agency administrators understand the provisions of OSHA’s Emergency Action Plan requirements and take steps to develop and implement a plan for your workplace. In addition to helping employees evacuate safely in an emergency, a plan will also help you to avoid possible OSHA citations or civil liabilities in the event of an emergency-related injury (Preparing for Workplace Emergencies, 2001).
“The Emergency Action Plan mandates are different than other standards because it is not specific to states, regions, or industry types.” This standard applies to all employers, with additional record keeping requirements placed on employers with 10 or more employees on payroll. “While many of the OSHA standards are industry specific, the Means of Egress standard specifically requires that all Emergency Actions Plans conform to the provisions outlined in Subpart E.” (Preparing for Workplace Emergencies, 2001). A good overview of the essential components of an EAP is available at: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/index.html
Types of Emergencies
An EAP must address any reasonably expected emergency that could involve your agency, including fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, floods, loss of power, bomb threats, chemicals spills and/or release of toxic fumes (Preparing for Workplace Emergencies, 2001).
Building Maintenance Requirements
All exits must be clearly marked with exit signs and employees must be directed to keep the exits clear at all times and not blocked with any materials or debris. The Means of Egress standard also requires that all building exits and escape routes be properly illuminated.
The Means of Egress (29 CFR 1910.38, Emergency Action Plans) standard requires that your agency develop and implement an Emergency Action Pan that includes:
- “Procedures for reporting a fire or other emergency”
- Dial 911 or internal emergency number, and/or activate building alarm system. Take into consideration that if your telephone system requires an access number to reach an outside line, that access number must be dialed to reach a 911 operator as well; for example, “9-911.”
- “Procedures for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments”
- Who is authorized to order an evacuation
- Under what conditions an evacuation would be necessary
- How to evacuate
- What routes to take
- “Procedures to account for all employees upon evacuation”
- Designated employees to sweep areas, checking offices and rest rooms before being the last to leave a workplace
- Conducting a roll call in the assembly area.
- Designate an “evacuation warden” to assist others in an evacuation and to account for personnel.
- “Procedures to be followed by employees performing rescue or medical duties”
- A system for training employees on the provision of the plan
- Individual roles and responsibilities
- Threats, hazards and protective actions
- Notification, warning and communications procedures
- Means for locating family members in an emergency
- Emergency response procedures
- Evacuation, shelter and accountability procedures
- Location and use of common emergency equipment
- Emergency shutdown procedures
- “The name or job title of every employee who may be contacted by employees who need more information about the plan or an explanation of their duties under the plan.”
Agencies are required to train a sufficient number of individuals to help assist with evacuation procedures. “Written procedures should be reviewed with all employees upon implementation of the plan, when employee responsibilities change or if there is a revision to the plan itself. The standard also requires that a sufficient number of adequately trained personnel be available at the agency at all times during business hours.” (Preparing for Workplace Emergencies, 2001). And remember: If training is not reinforced it will be forgotten. Consider retraining employees annually.
A copy of your agency’s Emergency Action Plan must be kept at the workplace and made available for employee review. These records can be used to show proof in the event of an inspection or emergency-related injury that a plan has been implemented. (Preparing for Workplace Emergencies, 2001).
Floor Plans / Evacuation Maps
The appendix to Subpart E of the Mean of Egress standard states that “the use of floor plans or evacuation maps which clearly display escape routes should be included in the emergency action plan.” These maps should include locations of fire extinguishers, emergency exits, first aid kits and assigned routes of exits. For an example, review information at (Preparing for Workplace Emergencies, 2001): OSHA Sample Floor Diagrams
Note: If remodeling or renovation has been conducted in your agency, make sure that evacuation plans and floor maps have been updated to reflect these changes.
Alarm System / Evacuation Procedures
Each agency should have a method of communication to notify employees that evacuation procedures have been activated in the event of an emergency. OSHA recommends that evacuation drills be conducted as part of the agency’s safety plan (Preparing for Workplace Emergencies, 2001).
When employees must remain behind to care for essential operations, a list of detailed procedures to be performed must be developed. Many times these essential employees will be the last to evacuate the site (Preparing for Workplace Emergencies, 2001).
Your agency can help protect employees by posting evacuation maps in the workplace, developing and implementing Emergency Action Plans into your daily culture and documenting the Emergency Action Plan efforts as part of your Agency’s EO 52 response.
Personal Concepts Limited. “Preparing for Workplace Emergencies, OSHA’s Emergency Action Plan Requirements.” (n.d.). Retrieved January 1, 2003 from: http://www.oshaposters.com/news/07_09_01.html
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “29 CFR 1910.35 Means of Egress Coverage and Definitions”. (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2002 from: http://www.osha.gov
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “29 CFR 1910.36 Means of Egress General requirements.” (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2002 from: http://www.osha.gov
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “29 CFR 1910.37 Maintenance, safeguards, and operational features for exit routes.” (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2002 from: http://www.osha.gov
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “29 CFR 1910.38 Employee emergency plans and fire prevention plans” (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2002 from: http://www.osha.gov
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “29 CFR 1910 Subpart E appendix – Means of Egress.” (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2002 from: http://www.osha.gov
OSHA now has an e-Tool available to assist agencies in developing evacuation plans and procedures. It is available at: http://www.osha.gov
Emergency Action Plan Checklist http://www.osha.gov
How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3088.pdf
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