OSHA Insights: Emergency Action Plans

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has several requirements in place for businesses to maintain a safe and productive work environment for their staff. In the event of an emergency, an organization should have a detailed action plan that is easy to access and follow. All employees should be trained on the procedures to allow for the plan to be executed without problem during an emergency. Emergencies may include fire, evacuation, natural disaster, or medical emergency.

4 OSHA Guidelines for

Your Emergency Action Plan

  • Written and Oral Communication.
    Your company is required to have an emergency action plan in writing. It needs to be easily accessible by everyone in the facility. However, if your company has fewer than 10 employees you are allowed to communicate the action plan verbally. For the written plan, keep a copy in the facility for easy access as well as with the employee handbook or with human resources.
  • Minimum Requirements.
    OSHA requires the following items be on all emergency action plans:

    • Fire safety and reporting procedures
    • Evacuation plans including routes
    • How to account for employees after evacuations
    • Critical employees who stay behind during evacuations
    • Procedures for employees during rescue and medical emergencies
    • Emergency contact information for employees to learn more about procedures
  • Alarm Systems.
    Employers are required to have and maintain a proper alarm system. It must also have distinct sounds for all types of emergencies including lock down, evacuations, or fires. The alarm system must comply with OSHA standards. Employees who need to have access to the system should be appropriately trained. You may also want to conduct drills on site.
  • Training and Review.
    Employees should be trained to assist in a safe and orderly way should an emergency arise. The employer is also required to review safety plans with all employees. This should happen any time changes are made to the plan or when a new employee is added to the team. An employee also needs to be made aware when their duties under the plan change. Temporary employees also need to be made aware of emergency plans.