How Does an Emergency Action Plan Benefit Your Workplace?

An Emergency Action Plan can help reduce the likelihood of injuries and damage during an emergency by outlining preparedness, response, and recovery procedures.

It outlines evacuation procedures, prevents panic, and gets everyone prepared. Practicing emergency protocols means your staff will know exactly what to do in a crisis. This saves lives by avoiding confusion and tragedy. A solid plan shows employees you take their safety seriously.

Life-Saving Benefits of an Effective Emergency Action Plan

Beyond fulfilling legal obligations, an EAP has many tangible benefits for your organization:

  • Saves Lives by Preparing Employees: Everyone understands their role if an emergency occurs. Chaos is reduced.
  • Enables Timely, Orderly Evacuation: With set procedures, employees evacuate quickly and safely. Headcounts prevent any missing persons.
  • Limits Panic Through Established Plans: When staff knows what to do, anxiety is reduced and crises are managed calmly.
  • Allows for Effective Incident Management: With designated coordinators and specific response plans, issues can be resolved quickly.
  • Reduces Legal Liability: OSHA cites failure to have an EAP in over 17% of investigation cases. Starting January 2023, OSHA has increased fines for serious violations from $14,502 to $15,625 per violation.
  • Boosts Employee Morale: Employees feel more valued and invested in the organization’s safety culture.

“After implementing our EAP, our emergency drill evacuation times improved by 35%,” reports Christine Davis, Safety Manager at Acme Insurance. “Employees are more confident and prepared for any crisis.”

Required Elements of a Comprehensive EAP

While plans may vary by company and location risks, OSHA mandates that all emergency action plans contain these core elements:

  • Emergency Alert and Evacuation Policies: Procedures for immediate reporting of fires or other emergencies. Use of alarm systems, emergency messaging, and backup communication.
  • Emergency Escape Procedures and Routes: Maps showing exit locations and primary/alternate evacuation paths. Signage for emergency exits and routes.
  • Procedures to Account for All Employees: Designated meeting points post-evacuation. Headcount procedures using checklists and exit monitors.
  • Emergency Response Roles: Names, titles, and contact information for coordinators in charge of EAP. Chain of command policies.
  • Emergency Training and Drill Schedule: Annual training for employees on EAP policies. Calendar of mock evacuation drills with audits.
  • Specific Response Plans: Detailed action steps for likely scenarios – fires, severe weather, workplace violence, etc.

“A comprehensive EAP shows employees you take their safety seriously,” says Cristina Martinez, EHS Director at Datum Enterprises. “It improves morale, participation, and overall readiness.”

Creating and Implementing Your Workplace EAP

Follow this step-by-step guide to create a customized EAP for your organization:

1. Conduct a hazard assessment to identify potential emergency scenarios based on location, industry, facility layout and other risk factors.

2. Establish clear policies and procedures for emergency evacuation, headcounts, incident reporting, coordination roles, and all response protocols.

3. Designate and train emergency coordinators to lead EAP response. Provide coordinators with needed resources and authority.

4. Post evacuation floor plans with primary and alternate routes. Install signage to designate emergency exits and routes.

5. Develop headcount procedures for accounting for all employees at designated meeting points. Appoint monitors.

6. Outline plans to assist injured and disabled individuals during evacuation and emergencies.

7. Schedule annual EAP training for employees. Conduct drills to test effectiveness. Track performance metrics.

8. Review and revise EAP annually or after incidents/drills. Have leadership endorse changes.

“Executive buy-in is critical for EAP success,” emphasizes safety director Martinez. “Leadership must fully embrace safety policies and provide resources to implement them.”

Maintaining a Current, Practiced Emergency Action Plan

Compliance and readiness require continually maintaining and improving your EAP:

  • Provide initial and annual EAP training to educate all employees on procedures and responsibilities.
  • Post evacuation maps and emergency contacts prominently throughout the facility.
  • Conduct quarterly evacuation drills and schedule annual EAP reviews/updates.
  • Use drill evaluations and employee feedback to improve plans. Report metrics to leadership.
  • Communicate EAP changes to staff using email, signage, revised quick reference guides, and repeat training.
  • Encourage suggestions and participation in the EAP from managers and employees.

By taking a proactive approach with your emergency action planning, you can significantly reduce safety risks and prevent needless tragedies. Use OSHA’s helpful resources along with expert advice tailored for your organization. Protect your most valuable assets – your people.