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
Hazardous Materials
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
Fire Protection
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))

Our team has over 50 years of experience assisting clients with developing and implementing Emergency Action Plans. Contact us today to set up a consultation!

Additional Resources:

OSHA Emergency Preparedness & Response e-Tool

American Red Cross Emergency App – Available in the Apple App Store & Google Play Store