What is an Emergency Action Plan?

An emergency action plan (EAP) is a written document required by particular OSHA standards [29 CFR 1910.38(a)]. The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. Well developed emergency plans and proper employee training (such that employees understand their roles and responsibilities within the plan) will result in fewer and less severe employee injuries and less structural damage to the facility during emergencies. A poorly prepared plan, likely will lead to a disorganized evacuation or emergency response, resulting in confusion, injury, and property damage.

Putting together a comprehensive emergency action plan that deals with those issues specific to your worksite is not difficult. It involves taking what was learned from your workplace evaluation and describing how employees will respond to different types of emergencies, taking into account your specific worksite layout, structural features, and emergency systems. Most organizations find it beneficial to include a diverse group of representatives (management and employees) in this planning process and to meet frequently to review progress and allocate development tasks. The commitment and support of all employees is critical to the plan's success in the event of an emergency; ask for their help in establishing and implementing your emergency action plan. For smaller organizations, the plan does not need to be written and may be communicated orally if there are 10 or fewer employees [29 CFR 1910.38(b)].

At a minimum, the plan must include but is not limited to the following elements [29 CFR 1910.38(c)]:

- Means of reporting fires and other emergencies
- Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments
- Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate
- Procedures to account for all employees after an emergency evacuation has been completed
- Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them
- Names or job titles of persons who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan

Although they are not specifically required by OSHA, you may find it helpful to include the following in your plan:

- A description of the alarm system to be used to notify employees (including disabled employees) to evacuate and/or take other actions. The alarms used for different actions should be distinctive and might include horn blasts, sirens, or even public address systems.

- A good emergency communications deployment system, (Like CivilDispatch.com Emergency Dispatch Systems) to immediately alert your employees of such a disaster and instructions on what to do when one happens.

- The site of an alternative communications center to be used in the event of a fire or ex plosion; and

- A secure on- or offsite location to store originals or duplicate copies of accounting records, legal documents, your employees' emergency contact lists, and other essential records.

Need help with your EAP? We can help! Contact Us today and speak to a business professional who can help evaulate your business and make suggestions on how to properly protect your business in the case of emergencies.

Source United States Department of Labor

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