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Emergency Action Plans

Is your company prepared for an emergency?  Whether in an office environment, a construction site or a manufacturing facility, OSHA requires you to have a plan on how to handle emergencies.  An effective Emergency Action Plan (EAP) will assess and address each organization’s unique set of circumstances and communicate to employees how to handle them.   The creation and implementation process does not need to be complex or time consuming to be effective.  However, without an Emergency Action Plan, no team can be fully prepared to respond to workplace emergencies.

Here are ten steps to create an Emergency Action Plan to ensure your team takes appropriate action in an emergency.

  1. Create an Emergency Response Team (ERT)
    An ERT should have team members from all levels of the organization to ensure buy-in throughout the workforce. Including a variety of team members will ensure that the plan accounts for each departments unique needs.
  2. Recognize and Assess Potential Emergencies
    What hazards do you have or create in your facility and specific work areas? Examples include accidental release of hazardous chemicals, fires, First-Aid/CPR, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, , etc.
  3. Develop Clear and Effective Emergency Procedures
    Your procedures should include an outline of actions to take during different emergency scenarios. In the event of a specific emergency, what is the plan to use as protocol to ensure everyone’s safety? Examples include who are the first responders, where are the evacuation meeting points, what to do in the event of an explosion, etc.
  4. Complete Emergency Equipment Identification and Location
    Ensure emergency equipment is readily accessible and well-marked. This includes first aid kits, fire extinguishers, defibrillators and more. The goal is to guarantee all personnel have access to emergency equipment and where to find it.
  5. Conduct Emergency Equipment Training
    Properly train employees in the use of emergency equipment like fire extinguishers, automated external defibrillators (AEDs), administering first aid/CPR, and Narcan. Some of this training is required annually by OSHA..
  6. Identify Location and Contact for External Emergency Facilities
    Be sure employees know how to contact external emergency facilities such as hospitals, fire stations, or police stations, if needed.
  7. Establish Alarm and Emergency Communication Requirements
    Establish a system to notify employees and designated personnel to ensure a prompt response. Examples include a central alarm system, radio communication, designated personnel to inform employees, etc.
  8. Document and Communicate Procedures for Rescue and Evacuation
    Create and communicate a clear plan for how to conduct rescues and evacuations including Designated Emergency Assembly (DEA) locations to minimize confusion and maximize safety. Include details such as who will conduct rescue and how, where everyone is to collect, and who is to conduct head counts whether indoors or outdoors. Examples include maps for Designated Emergency Assembly (DEA) locations, assigned first-aid responsibilities, etc.
  9. Assign Emergency Contacts
    Identify who should be notified in the event of an emergency to ensure key internal individuals are informed promptly. Your EAP should have the person’s full name, title and phone numbers for each emergency contact. Examples include the Plant Manager, Safety Manager, Supervisors, Foreman, etc.
  10. Complete Periodic Practice Drills
    Conduct emergency practice exercises and assess outcomes, noting where improvements need to be made.

Author: Jorge Zazueta