Enterprise-wide standardization breeds familiarity. Yet, each facility requires customization due to site-specific risks, threats, and emergency response challenges. This continually evolving component of preparedness, response planning, and regulatory compliance complicates the administrative duties associated with maintaining a company’s multiple Emergency Action Plans (EAPs).
Technology, such as a web-based planning system, provides companies with the tools to balance enterprise-wide standardization and site-specific regulatory criteria. Companies responsible for multiple buildings, possibly in various locations, should demonstrate a commitment to emergency management by creating a systematic template for incident response policies, procedures, and practices. Yet, these templates should enable users to incorporate the detailed, site-specific data necessary for an effective response.
While much of the information required in an EAP is site-specific, a template approach ensures regulatory requirements are communicated and pre-approved company protocols are identified. At a minimum, a template for EAPs should include:
- Procedure(s) for reporting a fire or other emergency
- Procedure(s) for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments
- Procedure(s) to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate
- Procedure(s) to account for all employees after evacuation
- Procedure(s) to be followed by employees performing rescue or medical duties
- Contact Information of company/building/site management
- Alarm system details
The primary goal of an EAP is to protect lives. To establish effective EAPs capable of protecting employees or building occupants, companies should conduct analyses to identify necessary site-specific safety measures, including those required in OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.38 regulation. Analyses should identify the following details:
1. Site Analysis
- Identify existing and potential site hazards through employee feedback, audits, and detailed inspections.
2. Task Analysis
- Determine job specific methods and procedures for each employee’s duty to reduce or eliminate associated hazards.
- Review and update methods and procedure when an incident occurs, job responsibilities change, or if hazards are identified through analysis.
3. Risk Analysis
- Establish risk evaluation criteria, probability of incident, and potential consequences.
- Monitor and review procedures for continuous improvement, effectiveness, control measures and changed conditions.
After initial analyses, site-specific EAPs should be developed and shared with building occupants. Depending on the characteristics of the building, and inherent roles and responsibilities of the occupants, an EAP may be a component of a comprehensive emergency response-planning program. This inclusive program may include Facility Response Plans and site-specific Fire Pre Plans. Building emergency response plans should include the following minimum information:
● Building description
● Owner/Manager contact information
● Emergency Assembly Point details
● Internal and/or external emergency personnel information and contact details
● Specific hazard details and possible MSDS information, if applicable
● Utility shut-off locations and descriptions
● Alarm(s) description
● Emergency equipment inventory and locations
● Plot plan(s) and floor plan(s)
● Risk, site and task identified situational checklists and job specific procedures
Emergency management programs, especially those inclusive of multiple buildings, should include health, safety and environmental training to communicate regulatory requirements, site response methods, and other applicable required safety training. EAPs require that companies designate and train employees to assist in the safe and orderly evacuation of other employees. Job and site specific training should be implemented for current employees, new hires, or supervisors that may need to carry out direct reports’ responsibilities.
Safety audits, inspections, task analyses, and incident investigations often identify a need for additional training and/or highlight necessary changes that may apply response plans. EAPs must be reviewed when:
- Initial plan is developed
- A new employee is assigned to the EAP
- Employee emergency response role or responsibilities change
- Plan is revised