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How to Create an Emergency Action Plan

Author: Leanne Coffman, The Safety Training Solution LLC

Planning and training are critical to minimize the negative impact of sudden emergencies that transpire in the workplace. A well-developed emergency action plan (EAP) is the foundation of a coordinated workplace response that helps protect workers and property during unforeseen events.

The emergency action plan should address response to known or common workplace emergencies, such as fire, explosion and medical emergencies. However, any situation that threatens human lives, such as an active shooter event, or which has the potential to disrupt business operations may be addressed in the plan. The EAP should also contain response to events that may adversely impact the environment, such as chemical spills or releases.

A comprehensive plan offers procedures for various potential disasters and emergencies, assigns authority for emergency duties and directs the entire workplace in methods to prevent loss of life, injuries and property damage.

Creating an EAP that functions effectively is not difficult, but employers should be aware of certain legal requirements, as well as site specific hazards that may need to be incorporated into the plan.

Involving supervisors or members of the safety committee in the development process is beneficial, as these individuals may be aware of facility hazards or indigenous processes that must be addressed to minimize dangers to employees or the physical property.

Employers should focus on gathering as much information as possible, through reviews of applicable laws, regional sources and internal hazard assessments, prior to creating the plan. Once employers have obtained a clear picture of the requirements and types of hazards, developing emergency procedures and training workers is a more refined and streamlined process.