A workplace emergency is an unforeseen situation that threatens your employees, customers, or the public; disrupts or shuts down your operations; or causes physical or environmental damage. Having an emergency action plan is key to preventing a disorganized evacuation or emergency response that could result in confusion, injury, and property damage.
Federal regulations require that almost every business develop an emergency action plan. An emergency action plan covers designated actions employers and employees must take to ensure employee safety.
Emergency Action Plan Key Elements:
- Means of reporting emergencies
- Evacuation procedures
- Procedures for employees who remain to operate critical operations before evacuating
- Procedures to account for all employees
- Rescue and medical duties
- Names and job titles of persons who can be contacted for more information
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Your emergency action plan should be tailored to your worksite and include information about all potential sources of emergencies. Keep a copy of your emergency action plan in a convenient location where employees can get to it, or provide all employees a copy. (If you have 10 or fewer employees, you may communicate your plan orally.)
You can use the online Emergency Action Plan Expert System, available from the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), to help you create a simple emergency action plan for your company. According to OSHA, this basic plan will be adequate for the needs of many small and medium-sized entities, but may not be adequate for large establishments or those with more significant hazards.
Note that the OSHA Expert System only provides information based on federal OSHA Emergency Action Plan requirements. If you are covered by a state OSHA plan, you may need to contact your local state OSHA office. Our section on Planning for Workplace Emergencies includes additional information and tips for protecting your employees and business during a disaster.