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OSHA Checklist for your Emergency Action Plan

An OSHA checklist of 21 elements that OSHA looks for in your Emergency Action Plan        by John Henle

Disasters may happen at any time. The most effective way to handle a crisis situation is to prepare in advance by creating an Emergency Action Plan. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires written Emergency Action Plans for many businesses, and specific businesses may have additional regulations due to their handling of hazardous materials.
The best time to handle a disaster is before it ever takes place. Before you create your Emergency Action Plan, you’ll need to examine your business and see what probable hazards you have at hand. These can vary depending on the type of business and your location. Some emergency action plans will cover problems dealing with hazardous materials, some will need to deal with issues from older buildings that were built to a lower-standard safety code, and some will need to have strategies in place to prepare for natural disasters more likely in certain areas, such as ice storms, flooding, and tornadoes.
While many things will be different depending on the type of emergency you are preparing for—what you do during a tornado or flood will be much different than what you do during a fire or workplace violence incident, for example—some of the basic preparations will be similar for multiple problems. Always make available steps for getting people to safety, whether that means sheltering or evacuating them, and always have a clear and effective plan for communicating with everyone who could be affected.
Be sure to investigate not just what hazards you may face and how to stay safe during them, but also what effects they will have afterward. This should reveal such considerations as what lost income and increased expenses could be caused by your business being shut down for various amounts of time, the effect of lost customers, the delay of new business plans, and other effects of a disruption of service. Be as exact as possible in order to get a good idea of what costs you might accrue so you can most accurately plan for a disaster.
General Issues
1. Does the plan consider all potential natural or man-made emergencies that could disrupt
your workplace?
2. Does the plan consider all potential internal sources of emergencies that could disrupt
your workplace?
3. Does the plan consider the impact of these internal and external emergencies on the
workplace’s operations and is the response tailored to the workplace?
4. Does the plan contain a list of key personnel with contact information as well as contact
information for local emergency responders, agencies and contractors?
5. Does the plan contain the names, titles, departments, and telephone numbers of
individuals to contact for additional information or an explanation of duties and
responsibilities under the plan?
6. Does the plan address how rescue operations will be performed?
7. Does the plan address how medical assistance will be provided?
8. Does the plan identify how or where personal information on employees can be obtained
in an emergency?

Evacuation Policy and Procedures
1. Does the plan identify the conditions under which an evacuation would be necessary?
2. Does the plan identify a clear chain of command and designate a person authorized to
order an evacuation or shutdown of operations?
3. Does the plan address the types of actions expected of different employees for the various
types of potential emergencies?
4. Does the plan designate who, if anyone, will stay to shut down critical operations during
an evacuation?
5. Does the plan outline specific evacuation routes and exits and are these posted in the
workplace where they are easily accessible to all employees?
6. Does the plan address procedures for assisting people during evacuations, particularly
those with disabilities or who do not speak English?
7. Does the plan identify one or more assembly areas (as necessary for different types of
emergencies) where employees will gather & a method for accounting for all employees?
8. Does the plan address how visitors will be assisted in evacuation and accounted for?

Reporting Emergencies and Alerting Employees in an Emergency
1. Does the plan identify a preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies?
2. Does the plan describe the method to be used to alert employees, including disabled
workers, to evacuate or take other action?

Employee Training and Drills
1. Does the plan identify how and when employees will be trained so that they understand
the types of emergencies that may occur, their responsibilities and actions as outlined in
the plan?
2. Does the plan address how and when retraining will be conducted?
3. Does the plan address if and how often drills will be conducted?


Information for this article were obtained from OSHA’s eTools and OSHA’s Education Center