Emergencies can strike at any time, and confusion throughout your company will only sow more chaos. That’s why emergency action plans (EAP) are often required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The quality of your emergency action plan is crucial. A strong emergency action plan can mean the difference between keeping your head above water and plummeting towards disaster.
Every company’s emergency action plan is different, but you can draft your own with ease. That way whatever disaster strikes, you and your company will be prepared.
- What Is an Emergency Action Plan?
- What Are The Components of an Emergency Action Plan?
- Do I Need an Emergency Action Plan?
- What Emergencies Require an Emergency Action Plan?
- How Does an Emergency Action Plan Benefit Your Workplace?
- How To Write an Emergency Action Plan
- Emergency Action Plan Template
What Is an Emergency Action Plan?
An emergency action plan is a standard process that your company can use in the event of an emergency. It outlines the roles of everyone involved, from employers to managers and employees. It is often accompanied by regular training so that everyone on the team knows their part in the emergency action plan. Your EAP may include details such as:
- How to report an emergency
- Evacuation and escape procedures
- Operation procedures before evacuation
- How to account for all employees
- Rescue and medical assistance procedures
- Emergency contact information
An emergency action plan can also be known as:
- Business emergency plan
- Emergency operations plan
- Emergency response plan
What Are The Components of an Emergency Action Plan?
There are a number of components that you need to include in your emergency action plan. Although no two EAPs will be the same, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has specific universal elements that need to be included in every EAP, but only as a minimum, so be sure to be as extensive as necessary. The components required by OSHA include:
- Means of reporting fires and other emergencies
- Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments
- Procedures for employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate
- Accounting for all employees after an emergency evacuation has been completed
- Rescue and medical duties for employees performing them
- Names or job titles of persons who can be contacted
Do I Need an Emergency Action Plan?
Most businesses are required to have an emergency action plan. You can use OSHA’s Expert System to determine whether you are required to have an EAP. Generally, if fire extinguishers are required or provided in your workplace, and if anyone is required to evacuate during a fire or another emergency, then the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires you to have an EAP.
What Emergencies Require an Emergency Action Plan?
It’s always a good idea to have an EAP, though hopefully, you will rarely need to use it. Emergency action plans are put in place to prepare businesses for disasters requiring sheltering or evacuating as quickly as possible. You may need to use an emergency action plan in the event of:
- Biological accidents
- Bomb threats
- Hazardous material spills
- Heavy storms such as tornadoes
- Hostile intruder situations or workplace violence
- Structural failure
These are all situations in which confusion can lead to mayhem, and the organization of an EAP can save lives.
How Does an Emergency Action Plan Benefit Your Workplace?
An emergency action plan is not only required for most businesses, but it also benefits your workplace in several ways:
Prevents Injuries and Fatalities to Employees
As a business owner or manager, one of your top priorities should be the well-being and safety of your employees. Having an EAP ensures your employees know how to keep themselves and each other safe in any emergency situation in the workplace.
Potentially Minimizes Structural Damage
Well-trained and well-informed employees will know how to react to an emergency situation. In the event of a fire, for example, they will know the protocol set out in the EAP, which will allow them to react quickly by either calling the fire brigade or using provided fire extinguishers, preventing the fire from spreading through your workplace.
Reduces Confusion By Clearly Communicating Emergency Procedures
Clearly communicating emergency procedures means your employees will know what to do in what situation. They will know how to follow an established procedure, communicate with one another and comply with the EAP.
Opens Opportunities For B2B Partnerships
Enterprises will often want their suppliers to have EAPs in place to ensure they have emergency preparations to prevent any disruption to their supply chain. A solid EAP could be why a business chooses to partner with one business over another.
How To Write an Emergency Action Plan
The more thorough your emergency action plan, the safer your company will be:
Step 1 – Emergency Phone Numbers
Set out emergency numbers, including not just the police and paramedics but security and building services as well as any other relevant service.
Step 2 – Emergency Response Personnel
You should also designate who on your team will make up your emergency response personnel, from officials and coordinators to floor wardens and area monitors. Clearly specify the duties of each person in the event of an emergency. Make sure that team members are designated to help those with physical disabilities. If you have remote workers or hybrid employees, ensure that you have additional designated emergency response personnel.
Step 3 – Training
What kind of training will ensure the emergency procedures are well known? Make sure your team knows their individual responsibilities during an emergency, and what types of emergencies pose threats. You may need to include whether employees will need training on emergency shutdown procedures, for example.
Step 4 – Critical Operations
Note any critical operations that may require someone to stay on-site to prevent further damage.
Step 5 – Evacuation
Include evacuation route maps alongside your emergency action plan and detail what types of emergencies require evacuations.
Step 6 – Emergency Procedures
Finally, the emergency procedures section will take up the bulk of your emergency action plan. You need to detail emergency instructions for all possible scenarios. Cover situations such as fires and all potential natural emergencies relevant to your location. You should also consider including situations such as bomb threats, civil disturbances, and structure failure.
Emergency Action Plan Template
An emergency action plan should read more like an outline or a form, with the steps set out. Because there are so many details to include, it’s helpful to work from a premade template. A template will go into the details of all kinds of emergencies and include several recommended steps. OSHA regulations check these steps. Rather than spending hours or days creating your EAP, you can adjust a template to suit your needs.