Does OSHA Require an Emergency Response Plan?
An emergency action plan, EAP, is a written document that is needed if you meet requirements set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Smaller organizations that have less than 10 members of staff are not required to have a written EAP and can instead communicate their plan orally with their staff, although a written plan will ensure everyone is on the same page.
An EAP is an important document that is needed to organize and synchronize the actions of employers and employees during an emergency.
Does My Business Need an EAP?
Almost all businesses are required by OSHA to have an EAP in writing. Your business is required to have an EAP if you meet the following criteria:
- Fire extinguishers are provided in your workplace
- Anyone will need to evacuate because of any emergency, including a fire
These stipulations cover most businesses. The primary exception to this rule is in the rare instance that all staff members must have the training and equipment needed to fight fires.
The priority of most EAPs will be for immediate evacuation to protect staff and allow emergency services to do necessary work. Depending on industry, OSHA may require a team of trained employees who handle the fire to allow other staff members to evacuate safely.
OSHA outlines the minimum requirements that any business must consider and address within their EAP. Ideally, the EAP should be a comprehensive document that covers many different possible eventualities.
At a bare minimum, an EAP should consider the various scenarios specific to your workplace. For example, if your business is part of the manufacturing industry, you may need to consider eventualities such as fires, staff accidents and location-based disasters like earthquakes and tornadoes.
It is worth noting that even a basic plan is far more effective if a range of personnel are involved in the formation of the plan and have clear knowledge of its contents. This will ensure that, should an emergency situation arise, staff on all levels will know what to do.
Your EAP must include:
- How fires and other emergencies will be reported
- Evacuation procedures
- The assignment of emergency escape routes
- Procedures for employees needed to maintain critical operations during the evacuation process
- How to account for employees when an evacuation is complete
- Rescue and medical duties
- Names and job titles of first contact persons
Remember, This is Only a Bare Minimum
If your company satisfies only the bare minimum requirements for an emergency response plan, you are prepared to respond to only the mildest emergencies. No one wants to experience a disaster or be faced with an unexpected crisis, but you will only regret not being fully prepared if you find yourself in one of these unfortunate situations.
Some other recommended steps include having an off-site location with important documents and records, informing all employees of how your alarm system operates and determining if you will need a secondary power source.
If your business needs power to operate in an emergency, consider renting a diesel-fueled generator from Allied Rental Company. Our wide range of generators are reliable and affordable for businesses that want to keep working when faced with a power outage. They are available for rent by the day, week and month.