Communication is critical for workplace safety. Not only must safety standards be created, but they must also be communicated clearly throughout the organization in order to be effective. Bottom line: if no one knows how to react in the event of an emergency, the best laid plans are useless. That is why the creation and communication of an OSHA emergency action plan (EAP) is key.
Essentially, an EAP is a document intended to explicitly detail, in an organized fashion, the appropriate actions that employees and employers must take in the event of an emergency. This plan should be easily accessible and understandable by everyone within the organization in order to maximize its ability to effectively reduce employee injuries and fatalities. OSHA requires that, at a minimum, your OSHA emergency plan include the following:
• Names and titles of persons who should be contacted for more information related to your emergency action plan
• Method of reporting fires and other emergencies
• Evacuation procedures and escape routes
• Method to account for all employees after an evacuation is completed
• Procedures to be followed by employees who will operate critical plant operations in the event of an evacuation
An OSHA emergency plan will differ from industry to industry. Certain hazards are not relevant to certain industries; thus, you should think critically about the hazards that are present in your work environment and specific methods that will be the most effective at mitigating those hazards. The more dangerous the work environment, the more complex the scope of the OSHA emergency plan.
Tips for developing and implementing an OSHA emergency plan:
• Use the OSHA expert. OSHA has made an emergency action plan checklist available to help you start the process of creating an emergency plan.
• Involve your employees. Your employees can provide valuable contributions to your emergency plan.
• Train your employees. Once your OSHA emergency plan has been created, it is important to train your employees fully on their roles/responsibilities in the event of an emergency, the types of hazards possible, how to react in the event of the aforementioned hazard, location and proper handling of emergency equipment, and other relevant details for your organization.
• Train your employees…again. Periodically, employees should be refreshed on the EAP procedures. If any changes are made to the EAP, those changes should be immediately communicated across the organization.
• Face to face is best. While videos and emails are great forms of communication, they are not always the best mediums to ensure that your employees fully understand the details of your EAP. If possible, conduct employee training in-person.
Almost every business is required to have an EAP in place. Workrite can help you find the proper apparel you need to make sure that you are meeting the minimum standards as it relates to personal protective equipment standards.