Preparedness involves a continuous process of planning, equipping, training and exercising. Planning for tornadoes requires identifying a place to take shelter, being familiar with and monitoring your community’s warning system, and establishing procedures to account for individuals in the building. Employers may need to obtain additional equipment and/or resources (e.g. Emergency Supply Kits) identified in the plan. In addition, workers need to be trained and plans need to be practiced to ensure that personnel are familiar with what to do in the event of a tornado.
Identifying Shelter Locations
An underground area, such as a basement or storm cellar, provides the best protection from a tornado. If an underground shelter is unavailable, consider the following:
Personnel should also be aware of what to do if caught outdoors when a tornado is threatening. Seek shelter in a basement or a sturdy building. If one is not within walking distance, try to drive in a vehicle, using a seat belt, to the nearest shelter. If flying debris is encountered while in a vehicle, there are two options: 1) staying in the vehicle with the seat belt on, keeping your head below the windows and covering it with your hands or a blanket, 2) if there is an area which is noticeable lower than the roadway, lie in that area and cover your head with your hands.
The following steps are recommended to help ensure the safety of personnel if a tornado occurs:
Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are likely to occur in the watch area. Be ready to act quickly and take shelter, and check supply kits. Monitor radio and television stations for more information.
Tornado Warning - Imminent threat - A tornado has been sighted in the area or has been indicated by radar. Take shelter immediately.
Your local emergency management office can provide information about your community’s tornado warning system.
Some businesses are required to have an Emergency Action Plan meeting the requirements under 29 CFR 1910.38, see Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool for more information. Though Emergency Action Plans primarily involve evacuations, emergency planning for tornadoes involve identifying safe places of refuge for workers to go to in the event of tornadoes.
Training and Exercises
For more information, see the preparedness guide [5 MB PDF, 12 pages] developed by NOAA, FEMA and the American Red Cross.
Additional guidance on emergency plans:
Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.