of an emergency action plan
very simple plan will suffice in offices,
small retail shops, and small manufacturing
settings where there are few or no hazardous
materials or processes, and employees
evacuate when alarms sound or when notified
by public address systems. More complex
plans are required in workplaces containing
hazardous materials or workplaces where
employees fight fires, perform rescue
and medical tasks, or delay evacuation
after alarms sound to shut down critical
equipment. These more complex situations
are outside the scope of this eTool.
It is essential that the emergency action
plan developed be site specific with
respect to emergency conditions evaluated,
evacuation policies and procedures,
emergency reporting mechanisms, and
alarm systems. To assist you in your
planning, a series of checklists are
provided that identify issues that must
be considered when drafting a comprehensive
emergency action plan. An explanation
of each issue and/or examples of how
each issue might be addressed in typical
workplaces is provided.
The best emergency action plans
include employees in the planning process,
specify what employees should do during
an emergency, and ensure that employees
receive proper training for emergencies.
When you include your employees in your
planning, encourage them to offer suggestions
about potential hazards, worst-case
scenarios, and proper emergency responses.
After you develop the plan, review it
with your employees to make sure everyone
knows what to do before, during, and
after an emergency. Keep a copy of your
emergency action plan in a convenient
location where employees can get to
it, or provide a copy to all employees.
If you have 10 or fewer employees, you
may communicate your plan orally.
is common practice to select a responsible individual
to lead and coordinate your emergency plan and evacuation.
It is critical that employees know who the coordinator
is and understand that this person has the authority
to make decisions during emergencies. The coordinator
should be responsible for assessing the situation
to determine whether an emergency exists requiring
activation of the emergency procedures, overseeing
emergency procedures, notifying and coordinating
with outside emergency services, and directing shutdown
of utilities or plant operations if necessary.
other instances, local emergency officials,
such as the local fire department, may order
you to evacuate your premises. If you have
access to radio or television, listen to newscasts
to keep informed and follow whatever official
orders you receive.
When emergency officials,
such as the local fire department, respond to and
emergency at your workplace, they will assume responsibility
for the safety of building occupants and have the
authority to make decisions regarding evacuation
and whatever other actions are necessary to protect
life and property. The highest-ranking responder
will assume the incident command role and will work
with the onsite emergency coordinator, but will
be responsible for directing all response activities.
training and plan review
implementing the emergency
action plan, the employer must designate and
train enough people to assist in the safe and orderly
emergency evacuation of employees [29 CFR 1910.38(e)].
Employers should review the plan with each employee
when the initial plan is developed and when each
employee is initially assigned to the job [29 CFR 1910.38(f)(1)]. Employers
should review the plan with each employee when
his/her actions or responsibilities
under the plan change [29 CFR 1910.38(f)(2)],
or when the plan changes [29 CFR 1910.38(f)(3)]. Effective
plans often call for retraining
employees annually and include
drills in which employees can
practice evacuating their workplace
and gathering in the assembly
Educate your employees about the types of emergencies
that may occur and train them in the proper course
of action. The size of your workplace and workforce,
processes used, materials handled, and the availability
of onsite or outside resources will determine your
training requirements. Be sure all employees understand
the function and elements of your emergency
action plan, including types of potential
emergencies, reporting procedures, alarm systems,
evacuation plans, and shutdown procedures. Discuss
any special hazards you may have onsite such as
flammable materials, toxic chemicals, radioactive
sources, or water-reactive substances. An employer
must inform employees of the fire hazards to which
they are exposed and review with each employee those
parts of the fire prevention plan necessary for
self-protection [29 CFR 1910.39(d)].
Clearly communicate to your employees who will be
in charge during an emergency to minimize confusion.
General training for your employees should also
address the following:
And remember, if training
is not reinforced it will be forgotten. Consider
retraining employees annually.
- Individual roles and responsibilities;
- Threats, hazards, and protective actions;
- Notification, warning, and communications
- Means for locating family members in an emergency;
- Emergency response procedures;
- Evacuation, shelter, and accountability procedures;
- Location and use of common emergency equipment;
- Emergency shutdown procedures.
also may want to train your employees in first-aid
procedures, including protection against
respiratory protection, including use
escape-only respirator; and methods for
preventing unauthorized access to the site.
Once you have reviewed your emergency
action plan with your employees and everyone
has had the proper training, it is a good
idea to hold practice drills as often as necessary
to keep employees prepared. Include outside
resources such as fire and police departments
when possible. After each drill, gather management
and employees to evaluate the effectiveness
of the drill. Identify the strengths and weaknesses
of your plan and work to improve it.
review, coordination, and update
Once you have completed your
emergency action plan, review it carefully with
your employees and post it in an area where all
employees will have access to it.
employer must review with each employee upon
initial assignment those parts of the EAP
and fire prevention plan (FPP) that the
employee must know to protect him or herself
in the event of an emergency. The written
plans must be available to the employees and
kept at the workplace. For employers with 10
or fewer employees, the plans may be
communicated orally [29 CFR 1910.38(b),
29 CFR 1910.39(b)].
The plans also should be reviewed
with other companies or employee groups in your
building to ensure that your efforts will be coordinated
with theirs, enhancing the effectiveness of your
plan. In addition, if you rely on assistance from
local emergency responders such as the fire department,
local HAZMAT teams, or other outside responders,
you may find it useful to review and coordinate
your emergency plans with these organizations. This
ensures that you are aware of the capabilities of
these outside responders and that they know what
you expect of them.
It is a good idea to hold practice evacuation drills.
Evacuation drills permit employees to become familiar
with the emergency procedures, their egress routes,
and assembly locations, so that if an actual emergency
should occur, they will respond properly. Drills
should be conducted as often as necessary to keep
employees prepared. Include outside resources, such
as fire and police departments, when possible. After
each drill, gather management and employees to evaluate
the effectiveness of the drill. Identify the strengths
and weaknesses of your plan and work to improve
Operations and personnel change frequently, and
an outdated plan will be of little use in an emergency.
You should review the contents of your plan regularly
and update it whenever an employees emergency actions
or responsibilities change, or when there is a change
in the layout or design of the facility, new equipment,
hazardous materials, or processes are introduced
that affect evacuation routes, or new types of hazards
are introduced that require special actions. The
most common outdated item in plans is the facility
and agency contact information. Consider placing
this important information on a separate page in
the front of the plan so that it can be readily
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