An Investment In Your Employees, Your Company, Your Future

Emergency Action Plan Offers Peace of Mind

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. We often hear this in business circles, and it makes sense. The same can be said for disaster planning.

If you fail to prepare for emergencies, then you're bound to have casualties.

You may wonder if your company needs an emergency action plan (EAP). The fact is nearly every business is required to have one, says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

If fire extinguishers are required or provided in your workplace, or if anyone will be evacuated during a fire or other emergency, then OSHA's 1910.157 standard requires you to have an EAP.

The only exemption to this is if you have an in-house fire brigade.

“In most circumstances, immediate evacuation is the best policy,” OSHA says.

There may be situations where employee firefighting is warranted to give other workers time to escape. In this case, the employer is still required to have an EAP, OSHA points out.

Think about possible emergency situations and check to see if your workplace is sufficiently prepared in the following areas:

  • Design requirements for exit routes
  • Maintenance, safeguards and operational features for exit routes
  • Fire detection systems
  • Employee alarms
  • Fixed extinguishing systems
  • Portable fire extinguishers
  • OSHA says well developed EAPs and proper employee training will result in fewer and less severe injuries and less structural damage.

A poorly prepared plan will likely “lead to a disorganized evacuation or emergency response, resulting in confusion, injury and property damage.”

What should an EAP contain?

Your plan should address the following:

  • Procedures for reporting emergencies
  • A general alarm system to notify employees to evacuate
  • An evacuation policy and escape route
  • Procedures for employee sheltering/refuge
  • Procedures to account for employees after the evacuation to ensure everyone got out safely
  • Names of employees assigned with rescue and medical tasks
  • Procedures for employees who remain on site after the alarm sounds (to operate fire extinguishers or shut off gas/electrical systems)
  • A list of key personnel who should be contacted during off-hour emergencies

Businesses might also consider a secure on- or offsite location to store accounting records, legal documents and contact lists.

Effective EAPs call for retraining employees annually and regular evacuation drills.