An emergency action plan (EAP) is a written document required by particular OSHA standards. [29 CFR 1910.38(a)] The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. 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, likely will lead to a disorganized evacuation or emergency response, resulting in confusion, injury, and property damage.
Putting together a comprehensive emergency action plan that deals with those issues specific to your worksite is not difficult. It involves taking what was learned from your workplace evaluation and describing how employees will respond to different types of emergencies, taking into account your specific worksite layout, structural features, and emergency systems.
Drafting an emergency action plan (EAP) is not enough to ensure the safety of your employees. When an evacuation is necessary, you will need responsible, trained individuals who can supervise and coordinate activities to ensure a safe and successful evacuation.
A disorganized evacuation can result in confusion, injury, and property damage.
A fire is the most common type of emergency for which small businesses must plan. Evacuation plans that designate or require some or all of the employees to fight fires with portable fire extinguishers increase the level of complexity of the plan and the level of training that must be provided employees.
Chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants may be released into the environment in such quantity and/or proximity to a place of business that it is safer to remain indoors rather than to evacuate employees.
Although most of us quickly move away from the hazardous environments created during emergency situations, a group of dedicated and well-trained professional emergency responders and medical service personnel are tasked with containing and mitigating these incidents, rescuing individuals at-risk, and providing medical assistance to the injured.
Employees must know how to report emergencies. Some use internal telephone numbers, intercom, or public address systems to notify other employees. It is important for employees to also notify the proper authorities such as fire, medical, or rescue services, if your company relies on this type of assistance during an emergency.
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