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My company has a credible risk of anthrax exposure; what should I do to prepare?

Anthrax CollageThe following information will help you prepare for potential emergencies if you determine that your facility fits into the Yellow or Red Zones on the Anthrax Risk Reduction Matrix (such as if your facility has a credible risk of anthrax exposure):

Emergency Action Plan
Credible RiskAn emergency action plan (EAP) describes the actions employees should take to ensure their safety if a fire or other emergency situation occurs. Well-developed emergency plans and proper employee training (such that employees understand their roles and responsibilities within the plan) will result in fewer and less severe employee injuries and less structural damage to the facility during emergencies. A poorly prepared plan is likely to lead to a disorganized evacuation or emergency response, resulting in confusion, injury, and property damage. If your facility fits into the Yellow Zone on the Anthrax Risk Reduction Matrix (such as if your facility has a credible risk of anthrax exposure), you should add anthrax-specific information to your EAP. This may include:
  • Emergency identification:  Provide guidance on how to recognize a potential emergency situation (such as an anthrax threat or release, suspicious mail, etc.).  

  • Initial actions: Upon identification of a potential anthrax threat or release:

    • Do not panic.

    • Isolate contaminated areas.

    • Minimize exposure to others.

    • Turn off local fans or ventilation units and shut down the air handling system in the building, if possible.

    • Keep track of people who may have come into contact with the anthrax. Give this list to both the local public health authorities and law enforcement officials.
  • Notify the proper authorities once the area has been isolated.

    • Call 9-1-1 for local fire and law enforcement assistance. Call the Federal Protective Service if your building is managed by GSA.

    • Notify the National Response Center at (800) 424-8802. The NRC will notify the appropriate parties responsible for aiding in mitigation of these events.

    • Contact the owner or operator of the facility.
  • Notification:  A description of the alarm system to be used to notify employees (including disabled employees) to evacuate and/or take other actions.

  • Evacuation policy:  An evacuation policy, procedures, and escape route assignments so employees understand who is authorized to order an evacuation, under what conditions an evacuation would be necessary, how to evacuate, and what routes to take.

  • Account for employees:  Procedures to account for employees after the evacuation to ensure that everyone got out.

  • Organizational structure:  Define an organizational structure that defines the roles and responsibilities of employees in the event of an emergency.

  • Employee training:  A description of how employees will be informed of the contents of the plan and trained in their roles and responsibilities.

  • Contact information:  The names, titles, departments, and phone numbers of employees who can be contacted for additional information or clarification of some aspect of the plan.

  • Off-hour contacts:  A list of key personnel who should be contacted during off-hours emergencies.

  • Emergency drills:  Conduct emergency drills to help ensure that the actions outlined in the EAP are carried out properly and safely.
The following eTool link provides information on how to write and implement an EAP (including OSHA's Expert System, which will help you write your own EAP):

Mail-Handling Procedures
Credible RiskIn light of the terrorist attacks involving anthrax being transported through mail and packages, mail handling has become a concern for many employees and facilities.  If your facility fits into the Yellow Zone of the Anthrax Risk Reduction Matrix (your facility has a credible risk of anthrax exposure), the following mail handling information may be useful: Upon discovery of a suspicious package, the facility's Emergency Action Plan should be implemented.

Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at 202-693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.
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