Emergency Preparedness Depends on Having a Good Plan

Research reveals that only 43 percent of small businesses feel adequately prepared to handle a natural or man-made disaster.

If your company falls among the organizations ill prepared to cope with an emergency on-site, now is the time to fix the situation. Below are the answers to some common questions regarding emergency action plans:

Q: What is an emergency action plan (EAP)?

 A: An EAP is a written document that serves to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies.


Q: Who needs an EAP?

A: Almost every business is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to have an EAP. Specifically, you must have a plan:

  • If fire extinguishers are required or provided in your workplace
  • If anyone will be evacuating during a fire or other emergency

Q: Are there exceptions?

A: OSHA allows one exception: If you have an in-house fire brigade in which every employee is trained and equipped to fight fires (meaning no one evacuates).

Q: What are some key considerations when creating an EAP?

A: You’ll need to address the specific work-site layout, structural features and emergency systems when formulating your plan. You’ll also need to consider the type of facility, processes performed on-site and number of employees.

Q: What elements does OSHA require in a plan?

A: Among the major elements that OSHA requires in an EAP are:

  • Means of reporting fires and other emergencies
  • Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments
  • Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before evacuating
  • Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them
  • Names or job titles of persons who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan

Q: How detailed does an EAP have to be?

A: A simple EAP will generally suffice in offices, small retail shops and small manufacturing settings:

  • Where there are few hazardous materials or processes
  • Employees evacuate when alarms sound or when notified by public address systems

More complex plans are required in workplaces that:

  • Have hazardous materials on-site
  • Expect employees to fight fires and/or perform rescue and medical tasks
  • Require some employees to stay behind to shut down critical equipment before evacuating

Some Final Words

Emergencies pose a threat to even the most safety conscious of organizations. So take action, not chances. Review your EAP today while there is still time to do so.