Posted on: December 7, 2023

What Are OSHA’s Requirements for an Emergency Action Plan?

What Are OSHA’s Requirements for an Emergency Action Plan?

Are you prepared if disaster strikes at your workplace? While many would prefer to say yes, the reality is many businesses that should have an OSHA emergency action plan don’t have one in place. Continue reading below to learn how to make an emergency action plan according to OSHA’s requirements and discuss why every organization should have one in place for their employees.

What Is an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)? 

An emergency action plan (EAP) is crucial for preparing for disasters, as inadequate response preparations can lead to thousands of injuries and deaths annually. It is a written document required by OSHA standards for facilitating and organizing employer and employee activities in the event of a workplace emergency. It aims to prevent severe injuries and structural damage to the institution.

Why Do You Need an Emergency Action Plan?

An effective emergency action plan and staff training are crucial for maintaining staff safety during disasters. A well-designed EAP can reduce injuries and property damage, while a poorly designed strategy can lead to disorderly evacuation, confusion, and injury.

Many large organizations are now requiring their suppliers to have emergency plans in place to protect their businesses from potential competitor takeovers in the supply chain, as a lack of such plans could lead to business disruption.

Identifying potential hazards in your business is crucial to prevent problems from arising. This may involve managing hazardous products, managing older buildings with lower safety codes, or developing disaster preparedness techniques. Emergency response plans should cover these hazards and their potential consequences, ensuring your company is prepared for potential emergencies.

When is an Emergency Action Plan Required by OSHA?

You may have some questions when it comes to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration's (OSHA) Emergency Action Plans (EAP) for the workplace.

The number of employees in a building determines the need for a written emergency action plan or fire prevention plan. Employers with ten or fewer employees are exempt from developing a written plan.

However, it is always a good idea to be prepared, even if OSHA does not require it. OSHA still obligates employers to provide an EAP to their employees. The following minimum requirements must be communicated in an emergency response plan:

  • Emergency evacuation procedures, including evacuation and escape route assignments 
  • Procedures to be followed by personnel who continue to operate critical operations before being evacuated
  • Accounting for all employees following evacuation
  • Employees performing rescue or medical duties must follow certain procedures.
  • Reporting fires and other emergencies
  • Every employee's name or job title may be contacted by employees who require further information about the plan or an explanation of their responsibilities under the plan.

EAP for General Industry

OSHA's Emergency Action Plan Standard technically only applies to companies who are required to have an emergency action plan under a specific OSHA standard, such as:

  • Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals
  • Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER)
  • Portable Fire Suppression Equipment
  •  Fixed Extinguishing Systems,
  • Fire Detection Systems
  • Grain Handling Facilities
  • Ethylene Oxide (EtO)
  • Methylenedianiline (MDA)

However, all businesses should prepare a strategy to protect the safety of their employees in the event of an emergency.

EAP for Construction

Similarly, OSHA's Emergency Action Plan guideline for Construction applies solely to construction sites that are required to have an emergency action plan by a specific OSHA guideline. These requirements include:

  • Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals
  • Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER)
  • Ethylene Oxide

The MDA Standard demands an emergency action plan as well, although this standard refers to the general industry emergency action plan requirement.

Again, whether or not OSHA requires a plan, all companies should prepare one to safeguard the safety of their employees in the event of an emergency.

Getting Started on Your EAP

It may seem overwhelming, everything OSHA requires of an EAP, but has you covered. We have training covering both General Industry and Construction specific requirements. Each course will teach you a basic understanding of emergency action plans and exit requirements. In any workplace, familiarity with these plans can save lives. Check out our catalog and sign up today!