OSHA Emergency Action Plan Requirements

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OSHA Emergency Action Plan Requirements

The most obvious question, for starters, is whether or not you, as an employer, must have an emergency action plan. As a general rule, if you are required to comply with OSHA’s standard for portable fire extinguishers (§1910.157) or you have a fixed fire suppression system, you must comply with this provision. The emergency action planning also applies to employers who are covered by other OSHA standards, such as the Process Safety Management for Highly-Hazardous Chemicals (§1910.119). If you have any questions, contact your nearest OSHA office.

When developing your emergency action plan, it’s a good idea to look at a wide variety of potential emergencies that could occurr in your workplace. It should be tailored to your worksite and include information about all potential sources of emergencies. Developing an emergency action plan means you should do a hazard assessment to determine what, if any, physical or chemical hazards in your workplace could cause an emergency. If you have more than one worksite, each site should have an emergency action plan.

At the minimum, your emergency action plan must include the following:

* A prefered method for reporting fires and other emergencies;
* An evacuation policy and procedure;
* Emergency escape procedures and route assignments, such as floor plans, workplace maps, and safe or refuge areas;

Requirements for emergency action plans: Employers must have an emergency action plan whenever required by an OSHA standard. This section details what must be in such an emergency action plan.

1. Does it have to be in writing; do I have to make it available to all my workers?
* An emergency action plan must be in writing, kept in the workplace, and be available to all employees for review.
* An employer with 10 or fewer employees may communicate the plan orally to employees.
2. What are the minimum elements of an emergency action plan according to §1910.38?
* Procedures for reporting a fire or other emergency;
* Procedures for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments;
* Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate;
* Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation;
* Procedures to be followed by employees performing rescue or medical duties; and
* The name or job title of every employee who may be contacted by employees who need more information about the plan or an explanation of their duties under the plan.
3. Employee alarm system. Employers must have and maintain an employee alarm system. The employee alarm system must use a distinctive signal for each purpose and comply with the requirements of employee alarm systems ( §1910.165).
4. Training. An employer must designate and train employees to assist in a safe and orderly evacuation of other employees.
5. Review of emergency action plan. An employer must review the emergency action plan with each employee covered by the plan:
* When the plan is developed or the employee is assigned initially to a job;
* When the employee’s responsibilities under the plan change; and
* When the plan is changed.

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