A critical step on the path to safety is the development and implementation of an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) to deal with sudden emergencies such as fire, severe weather, or earthquake. It is a written document required by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.38(a).  It is intended to organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies with the aim to prevent employee injury and minimize damage to the facility.

An OSHA e-tool atwww.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/need.htmlhas a wealth of information to assist in putting together a plan that deals with issues specific to your worksite. It involves taking what was learned from a workplace evaluation and describing how employees will respond to different types of emergencies, taking into account your specific worksite layout, structural features, and emergency systems. 

The EAP must include:
(1) Means of reporting emergencies;
(2) Evacuation procedures and emergency escape routes;
(3) Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations;
(4) Procedures to account for employees after evacuation;
(5) Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them;
(6) Names or job titles of persons who can provide information or explanation of duties under the plan.

This ninth step on the path to an effective safety program can positively impact your productivity, the health and well-being of your employees, and a better bottom line.   

This article was written in conjunction with participants in the OSHA and ASA Alliance. It does not necessarily reflect the official views of OSHA or the U.S. Department of Labor.