When an emergency occurs, there is not much time to figure out a plan to get everyone to safety. Emergencies present a variety of hazards for employees in impacted areas. Developing a plan before an emergency happens is crucial in ensuring that your team has the necessary equipment, knows where to go, and knows how to keep themselves safe when an emergency happens.
What is a workplace Emergency?
A workplace emergency is any situation that threatens the safety of workers, customers, or the public. A situation is considered an emergency if it disrupts or shuts down operations, causes physical or environmental damage. Emergencies can include severe weather events, chemical spills or releases, disease outbreaks, active shooters, fires, explosions, and more. Many emergencies can be anticipated in the planning process to help workers and employers be prepared for an unpredictable situation. OSHA’s Emergency Preparedness and Response e-tool provides a list of all specific hazards and links to general emergency preparedness and response guidance. Click here to visit OSHA’s website.
What are OSHA’s General Industry requirements for an emergency?
There are several OSHA standards that apply to Emergency Preparedness & Response in General Industry. Many of these standards intend to protect not only employees at the facility, but anyone who may be responsible for responding to an emergency. This can include employees onsite, the local fire department, the local environmental management agency, and any other organization that may respond to an emergency at your facility.
|Means of Egress|
|1910.35-37 – Means of egress|
|1910.38 – Emergency action plans|
|Appendix – Means of egress|
|1910.119 – Process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals|
|1910.120 – Hazardous waste operations and emergency response|
|Personal Protective Equipment|
|1910.132 – General|
|1910.133 – Eye and face protection|
|1910.134 – Respiratory protection|
|1910.135 – Occupational head protection|
|1910.136 – Occupational foot protection|
|1910.137 – Electrical protective devices|
|1910.138 – Hand protection|
|General Environmental Controls|
|1910.146 – Permit-required confined spaces|
|1910.147 – Control of hazardous energy sources|
|Medical and First Aid|
|1910.151 – Medical services and first aid|
|1910 Subpart L – Fire protection|
|1910.157-163 – Fire suppression equipment|
|1910.164 – Fire detection systems|
|1910.165 – Alarm systems|
|Appendices A-E of Subpart L|
|Toxic and Hazardous Substances|
|1910.1030 – Bloodborne pathogens|
|1910.1200 – Hazard communication|
What is an Emergency Action Plan?
An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) organizes a facilities actions during a workplace emergency. It is highly recommended to have an EAP at your facility, even if you are not required by OSHA standards. A well developed EAP accompanied by proper employee training will lead to fewer and less severe worker injuries and less damage to the facility in the event of an emergency.
Developing a comprehensive EAP involves conducting a hazard assessment to determine physical or chemical hazards inside or from outside the workplaces that could cause an emergency. The plan should also describe workers that will respond to different types of emergencies, consider worksite layouts, structural features, and emergency systems. There should be an EAP for each site in your organization. Many organizations benefit from including a diverse group of representatives in the development of their EAP. Federal, state, and local agencies may be able to assist in incorporating other requirements or recommendations into their EAPs. Organizations with 10 or fewer workers do not need an EAP to be written and may be communicated orally. (General Industry Standard – 29 CFR 1910.38(b))
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American Red Cross Emergency App – Available in the Apple App Store & Google Play Store