Emergency Action Plans – Being Prepared if a Workplace Emergency Occurs
An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is a written document required by particular Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)standards. The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employee actions in the event of a workplace emergency. A written plan must be kept in any workplace with 10 or more employees and should be available for employee review at any time.
Well-developed emergency plans and proper employee training will result in fewer and less severe workplace injuries during emergencies. When creating a comprehensive EAP for your organization, always take into account the specific worksite layout, structural features and the available emergency alarm systems. At a minimum, OSHA requires that the following items are included in an EAP:
- Means of reporting fires and other emergencies
- Evacuation procedures and emergency escape routes
- Procedures for employees who operate critical plant operations prior to evacuation
- Process to account for employees after an emergency evacuation
- Rescue and medical duties for employees assigned to perform them
- List of employees who can be contacted for further explanation of duties under the plan
For a copy of OSHA’s Emergency Action Plan Checklist, click here.
Once your EAP is created, you will need to determine and train responsible employees who can supervise and coordinate a safe evacuation. It’s also critical that everyone within the organization know which employees will be coordinating evacuation efforts in the event of an emergency. Educating employees about the types of emergencies and practicing evacuation will minimize confusion in the event of an actual emergency and ensure that employees are able to vacate the premises safely. General training for your employees should address the following areas:
- Individual roles and responsibilities
- Threats, hazards and protective actions
- Notification, warning and communication procedures
- Means for locating family members in an emergency
- Emergency response procedures
- Evacuation, shelter and accountability procedures
- Location and use of common emergency equipment
- Emergency shutdown procedures
Severe Weather Preparedness
Springtime often brings hazardous weather conditions, including severe thunderstorms. These stormy conditions can lead to fires and other issues that warrant the utilization of Emergency Action Plans. While a typical thunderstorm is only about 15 miles in diameter, all thunderstorms are dangerous, despite their smaller size. There are several warning signs associated with thunderstorms to watch for, including:
- Dark, towering or threatening clouds
- A sudden drop in temperature
- The sound of thunder (when lightning and thunder are in the distance, thunder sounds like a long, low, rumble; when the storm is nearby, thunder and lightning are nearly simultaneous and sound like a loud, short bang.)
Lightning damage and injuries cost more than $1 billion in insured losses each year, according to the National Weather Service. Here are some tips for staying safe during a thunderstorm:
If working indoors:
- Stay away from windows and doors.
- Avoid talking on the telephone or using electronic devices.
- Steer clear of plumbing outlets and use surge protectors for all electrical equipment.
If working outdoors:
- Take shelter in a nearby building or car as soon as you hear thunder.
- If you can’t find immediate shelter, get as low to the ground as possible and avoid metal objects, such as bleachers or fences, and water.
- Remove all metal objects in your possession (e.g., jewelry, metal shoe cleats, etc.).
- Stay away from trees. Though a tall tree may seem like a sturdy structure for shelter, it is actually one of the worst places to hide.
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Accident Fund Insurance Company of America
Founded in 1912 and headquartered in Lansing, Mich., Accident Fund Insurance Company of America is a licensed workers’ compensation insurer in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Accident Fund is a member of Accident Fund Holdings, Inc. — one of the largest privately held monoline workers’ compensation carriers in the country and rated “A” (Excellent) by A.M. Best. All policies are licensed by a subsidiary of AFHI. For more information, visit Accident Fund’s website atwww.accidentfund.com.