An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is a written strategy that outlines how to respond to various types of situations. An EAP is a critical component of a company’s safety protocols.
Creating an EAP and training personnel on how to use it can significantly prevent employee injuries, property damage, and ensure visitor safety in the event of an emergency. OSHA offers a useful tool for guiding organizations through the process of developing an EAP.
An EAP can be effective in a variety of situations. Many emergencies will have similar components, but they will also have distinct components that will necessitate careful planning and execution. Preparedness Plans for Emergencies It is critical to identify and plan for the emergencies that are most likely to affect your company.
It is also critical to recognize that some emergency responses will have very different recommendations than others. For example, fires and tornadoes have very different requirements.
During a fire evacuation, the main goal is to get everyone out of the building as quickly as possible, whereas during a tornado evacuation, the goal is to get everyone inside the building as quickly as possible.
It can get even more complicated, such as during an active shooter situation, where hiding within the building may be the best option for some and evacuating may be the best option for others.
There will be no two EAPs that are the same. The specifics of an EAP will be influenced by building layouts, operating hours, personnel qualifications, and other factors. However, there are some universal components that should be included in most EAPs, such as:
Procedures for evacuation, escape routes, and floor plans;
Notifying and informing authorities;
Notifying employees and visitors of an emergency;
Following the implementation of an EAP, people must be accounted for;
Notification of parents, guardians, or next of kin;
Identifying a media point of contact;
Educating new employees;
EAP policies for updating and maintaining.
Some of the components have been divided into three categories: considerations for emergencies that begin or occur within the building; considerations for emergencies that occur outside of the building; and considerations for emergencies that arise as a result of a health-related scare.
For your convenience, here are a few examples from each category:
Emergencies within the building: fire, active shooter, power outage, etc.
Emergencies outside of the building: tornadoes, lightning, extreme heat, etc.
Heart attacks, seizures, drownings, concussions, and other medical situations.
Most emergencies will necessitate the involvement of law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel, and medical personnel. Having said that, it is critical that someone in the organization be designated to make that call. Nothing is more frustrating than a delayed response because everyone assumed someone else had contacted authorities.
It should be noted that some emergencies will necessitate the use of specialized emergency responders. A chemical spill, for example, will necessitate the services of a specialized hazardous materials unit, whereas downed power lines or utility issues will necessitate the work of the utility company. Ensure that the Emergency Action Plan contains all of the necessary emergency numbers and contact information.
In addition to notifying the appropriate authorities, it is critical to notify all staff and guests that an emergency has occurred. The precise method of communication will differ depending on the size and design of the facility as well as the nature of the emergency.
It is important to note that certain emergencies do not necessitate notifying everyone in a building. For example, if a person has a medical emergency, such as a stroke or heart attack, there is no need to notify everyone in the entire facility.
The EAP for these types of emergencies will be much simpler, involving immediately contacting medical assistance and identifying individuals within your organization who are trained in first aid to assist in the victim’s stabilization.
Depending on the nature and severity of the emergency, a member of the media may contact your organization for information. When dealing with the media, it is critical to have a single person designated as the media contact person.
Instruct all employees in your organization to direct all media and public inquiries to them. This person should be well-trained in how to respond appropriately to sensitive questioning and should understand what information is and is not acceptable to reveal.
Because emergencies can happen at any time and without warning, it is critical to develop a policy to train all new staff on the various EAPs and their role within them. Give all new employees a copy of the EAPs and a layout of the facility, including all emergency exits and escape routes, as part of new employee training/orientation.
New employees should be shown critical locations in the event of specific emergencies, such as where to seek shelter in the event of a tornado. Determine multiple emergency exits because certain emergencies may render the nearest exit inaccessible. If there is a chemical spill, for example, employees should be trained to avoid exits near the spill and find another way out of the building.
Change is unavoidable. Keeping all EAPs up to date is a major task, but it is the only way to ensure an efficient emergency response. EAPs should be reviewed and revised on an annual basis, or more frequently if necessary.
The document should include a list of changes. New hires, building redesigns, new programs, office changes, remodeling, and other factors can all have an impact on an EAP’s effectiveness.