Create and Implement an Emergency Action Plan
An Emergency Action Plan May Be Required
An Emergency Action Plan is a written document required by specific OSHA standards. An EAP aims to facilitate and organize actions during workplace emergencies.
Almost all companies must have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP). For example, if fire extinguishers are required or provided in your workplace, and if anyone will be evacuating during a fire or other emergency, then OSHA requires you to have an EAP.
Also, companies that have processes that use hazardous chemicals, or that are subject to OSHA’s Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals, Hazardous Waste Operations, or Grain Handling standards, may also need to develop an EAP.
Today, mature occupational safety programs include EAPs to ensure effective coordination of actions and communication during emergencies.
What Is Included in an EAP?
The OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.38 says that, at a minimum, an EAP must include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Procedures for reporting a fire or other emergency.
- Procedures for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit 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 evacuation.
- Procedures to be followed by employees performing rescue or medical duties.
- 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.
In addition, even though it’s not required by OSHA, the Agency says that it still may be a good idea to include the following in an EAP:
- A description of the alarm system to be used to notify employees to evacuate or take other actions.
- The site of an alternative communications center to be used in the event of a fire or explosion.
- A secure location to store copies of accounting records, legal documents, your employees’ emergency contact lists, and other essential records.
Be sure to update your EAP when employees who have assigned roles change, when the design or layout of a plant or work area changes, or when other changes that may impact the plan occur.
Also, Document Control software can be used to control edits and revisions, and improve the storing, versioning and management of an EAP. It can also be used to provide centralized access to an EAP to all employees, to make sure that everyone is aware of the plan.
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