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Emergency Action Plan

Emergency Action Plan, OSHA, JJ Safety

According to OSHA Standard 1910.38, every employer must have a written emergency action plan in the workplace, and be available to employees for review. Employers with less than ten employees may communicate the Emergency Action Plan orally.  

There has been a long and tragic history of workplace fatalities related to fires and explosions. Approximately 145 fatalities per year are the result of fires and explosions (3% of total fatalities). In addition to fires and explosions, other incidents in the workplace may require emergency actions to protect employees. Examples of emergency incidents include fire and explosions, severe weather, hazardous materials spills/releases and workplace violence. 

The purpose of an Emergency Action Plan or EAP is to describe the actions to be taken to ensure employee safety during an emergency. The EAP will use floor plans/maps to show emergency escape routes and tell employees what actions to take. The emergency action plan should cover all reasonably anticipated emergencies like fires, explosions, chemical releases, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc. 

The following are the minimum components an emergency action plan must have. 

  • Procedure for  reporting fires and other emergencies
  • 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.

You must also have and maintain an employee alarm system. The employee alarm system must use a distinctive signal for each purpose.

  • A description of the alarm system to be used to notify employees (including disabled employees) to evacuate and/or take other actions. The alarms used for different actions should be distinctive and might include horn blasts, sirens, or even public address systems.
  • The site of an alternative communications center to be used in the event of a fire or explosion.
  • A secure on- or off-site location to store originals or duplicate copies of accounting records, legal documents, your employees’ emergency contact lists, and other essential records.”

Before implementing the emergency action plan, the employer must designate and train enough people to assist in the safe and orderly emergency evacuation of employees. Employers should review the plan with each employee when the initial plan is developed and when each employee is initially assigned to the job. Employers should review the plan with each employee when his/her actions or responsibilities under the plan change or when the plan changes. Effective plans often call for retraining employees annually and include drills in which employees can practice evacuating their workplace and gathering in the assembly area.

For help developing a written Emergency Action Plan or training, call 866-627-3850 or email

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