Emergency Action Plans are a written document required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This is an important component of employee safety. (1)
EAP’s are designed to reduce the negative effects of stress on employees. They provide resources and guidance when a workplace emergency arises.
A properly devised emergency plan and training for all employees will result in fewer injuries or damage provided that employees understand their specific responsibilities under circumstances of an emergency.
If a plan is designed poorly, then an evacuation will be disorganized, resulting in potential injury, staff confusion, and possibly damage to the property.
Here are a few things to think about if you are going to implement an EAP in your own building.
Emergency Action Plan Checklist
Below are questions to consider when putting together your emergency plan.
Think through each question and compile this into a document your company can use as a guide to train for an emergency situation.
Have you considered all emergencies, natural or man-made, that may potentially disrupt your workforce?
A few different kinds of emergencies to be prepared for are:
- Hurricanes or tornadoes
- Civil disturbances
- Violence in the workplace
- Material releases that are toxic
Did you think through scenarios where there could be any areas for internal emergencies?
By conducting a hazard assessment, you’ll be able to pinpoint physical and chemical hazards that exist in the workplace and may cause an emergency.
Have you thought of the worst-case scenarios these internal and external emergencies might entail and the responses to these scenarios?
By thinking through these scenarios and developing a response, they will cover most of the bases you would ever be likely to encounter.
Do you have a list of people and their contact information for emergency responders in your local area?
By having a current list of key people, people can be quicker to respond in emergencies. Contact with local emergency responders can mean life or death in certain situations, so responding quickly is a must.
Do you have a list of the people who will be responsible for certain duties should an emergency were to occur?
Have on hand their name, title, department, and cell number listed for the people who will be the key people in executing the plan in an emergency.
Do you know how rescue operations will work?
In most emergencies, you’ll need to rely on local emergency response resources like the fire department trained in rescue operations. Knowing these procedures ahead of time will prevent the endangerment of anyone in the workplace.
Do you know how medical assistance is provided to you if needed?
More than likely, you won’t have anyone on staff who can handle a medical situation. Having a medical program to make any arrangements with a medical facility close to your location is important.
Consult with a local doctor or physician to ensure you have the proper supplies to include in your first-aid kits. Any serious injury should be treated within the first three to four minutes of an accident.
Do you have access to personal information of your employees?
If there is an emergency, having all the information about your employees is necessary if you have to contact any family members. You should have their home phone number, family member names, and any medical information first responders may need.
Do your employees know an evacuation plan, and under what circumstances would require one?
Different kinds of situations can require your company to evacuate the premises. It could be a fire, chemical spill, earthquake, or something similar.
Different kinds of hazards associated with your business will need to be properly laid out in your plan, and employees need to know if/when they should leave the building.
Do you have a designated chain of command or someone who can order a shutdown?
Leading an evacuation is a critical part of emergency planning. It’s important to select a responsible individual to lead and coordinate your evacuation for the safety of all those involved.
Employees must know who the coordinator is in their facility and understand that this person has the authority to make decisions and take care of business as needed during emergencies.
A coordinator is responsible for looking at what’s happening to determine whether an emergency exists. If one does exist, they’ll be responsible for notifying the proper emergency services and direct evacuation or shutdown measures in the building.
Do you have different actions for different employees based on the kind of emergency?
Each emergency will require different members of the team to have different actions depending on the event. Clearly defined roles for different team members specific to different emergencies should be written down, communicated, and practiced regularly.
Do you have different routes and exits for an evacuation? Are they visible?
A diagram of the floor plan should clearly indicate where the exits or equipment are that may be needed in emergencies. Note where exits, staircases, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, spill kits, and utilities like electric and gas are located.
Does your plan have an area where all employees and visitors can assemble to gather a headcount?
Being able to account for all of your employees and visitors during an emergency is crucial. Forgetting anyone could mean a loss of life or leaving someone behind in a dangerous situation. Take a headcount before and after the evacuation to know whether or not all have been accounted for.
Do you have proper training so designated employees understand and can execute the plan during an emergency?
When your emergency plan is developed, ensuring that employees are trained properly will determine how smooth an evacuation will go.
There should also be follow-up training that happens regularly throughout the year to make sure the procedures are fresh in their mind.
If the designated employees were to leave the company, their roles and responsibilities in an emergency plan should be reassigned immediately.
Training should address:
- Roles and responsibilities for specific employees
- Procedures for specific events
- Locations of exits and equipment needed
- Evacuation procedures
- What happens during an emergency shutdown
- Who to contact in specific situations
Once a plan is in place, training has been done, and everyone responsible is comfortable with the plans, practicing drills at least once a quarter is advised.