Plan for Emergencies

What would you do if an active shooter entered your workplace? Do you know what to do in the event of a tornado?

If you answered “no,” you’re not alone. A September 2016 National Safety Council poll found that 34 percent of workers in the United States do not feel well-trained in emergency practices, including evacuation. More troubling is the belief among 75 percent of managers that employees are well trained for emergencies.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires most employers to have and maintain an Emergency Action Plan. Many employers remain unaware of this requirement. Fortunately, OSHA provides an interactive, online e-tool to help you determine whether your business is covered. OSHA standards require that compliant plans contain the following elements:

  • Methods to report fires and other emergencies;
  • An employee alarm system, with a distinctive signal for each purpose (such as one type of signal for evacuation and another distinct signal for seeking shelter);
  • An evacuation policy, as well as procedures for evacuations;
  • Specific escape procedures and route assignments, which may include floor plans, places of refuge and building diagrams;
  • Dedicated assignment of authority and responsible parties, inclusive of the names, departments, titles and the telephone numbers of individuals under the plan;
  • Critical shut down procedures, as well as procedures for any workers who are assigned to operate fire extinguishers, or perform other essential services during emergencies;
  • Rescue and medical duties for workers responsible for performing these services;
  • Procedures to account for workers following an emergency;
  • Training for employees with duties under the plan; and
  • Regular reviews of the plan.

Optional components that are suggested by OSHA include:

  • A designated location for employees to assembly after emergencies; and
  • The site of an alternate communications center to be used in the event of serious events, such as fire or explosion.

Whether you’re developing a plan because OSHA requires it or simply to increase your organization’s emergency preparedness, a good Emergency Action Plan coupled with effective training can mean the difference between life and death for your employees.

Is your organization prepared?