Severe weather season is upon us, and employers should ensure that they are ready for whatever emergencies might come their way. Many employers are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to have an Emergency Action Plan in place to address hazard control and safe response in different types of emergencies. Employers should start by assessing the specific emergencies and hazards a particular worksite might face, taking into account particular worksite layouts, structural features, and emergency systems. Employers will typically want to address fire, tornado, and other severe weather hazards to start.
At a minimum, for businesses that are required to have an emergency action plan (EAP), the plan must include:
- A preferred method and/or procedures for reporting fires and other emergencies (29 CFR 1910.38(c)(1) and 29 CFR 1926.35(b)(5));
- Emergency escape procedures and route assignments, such as floor plans, workplace maps, and safe or refuge areas (29 CFR 1910.38(c)(2) and 29 CFR 1926.35(b)(1));
- Procedures to account for all workers after an evacuation, such as designating an assembly location (e.g., a safe/refuge area) (29 CFR 1910.38(b)(4) and 29 CFR 1926.35(b)(3));
- Names, titles, departments, and telephone numbers of individuals both within and outside the company to contact for additional information or explanation of duties and responsibilities under the emergency plan (29 CFR 1910.38(c)(6) and 29 CFR 1926.35(b)(6));
- Procedures for workers who remain to perform or shut down critical plant operations, operate fire extinguishers, or perform other essential services that cannot be shut down for every emergency alarm before evacuating (29 CFR 1910.38(c)(3) and 29 CFR 1926.35(b)(2)); and
- Rescue and medical duties for any workers designated to perform them (29 CFR 1910.38(c)(5) and 29 CFR 1926.35(b)(4)).
Once you have your plan in place, train all employees and new hires on the plan and procedures, and document the training.
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