A Brief Refresher on OSHA’s Emergency Action Plan Standard

Sadly, tragic workplace violence incidents continue to plague the country. Although it is unlikely that OSHA, in the foreseeable future, will engage in rulemaking for a general industry workplace violence rule, it has already taken affirmative steps to move forward on rulemaking for a workplace violence standard in the healthcare and social assistance industry.
However, almost every business is required to have an emergency action plan (“EAP”) which is designed to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. If fire extinguishers are required or provided in the workplace, and if anyone will be evacuated during a fire or other emergency, then OSHA generally requires the business to have an EAP with limited exemptions.
As a reminder, an EAP must be in writing, kept in the workplace and available to employees for review although an employer with 10 or few employees may communicate the plan orally to employees. At minimum, an EAP must include: (1) procedures for reporting a fire or other emergency; (2) procedures for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments; (3) procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plan operations before they evacuate; (4) procedures to account for all employees after evacuation; (5) procedures to be followed by employees performing resource or medical duties; and (6) 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. 29 C.F.R. § 1910.38(c).
The rule also requires employers to review the EAP with each employee covered by the plan (1) when it is developed or the employee is initially assigned to do a job; (2) when the employee’s responsibilities under the plan change; or (3) when the plan is changed. 29 C.F.R. § 1910.38(f).
As OSHA states, a properly developed EAP and employee training will help ensure fewer and less severe employee injuries and less structural damage to the facility during emergencies. To assist employers in developing an appropriate EAP, OSHA has published an Etool which can be found at https://www.osha.gov/etools/evacuation-plans-procedures/eap.

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