All California businesses with more than ten employees must maintain a written Emergency Action Plan. Title 8 CCR 3220, Emergency Action Plan, states that the Emergency Action Plan "shall cover those designated actions employers and employees must take to ensure employee safety from fire and other emergencies. For those employers with 10 or fewer employees the plan may be communicated orally to employees and the employer need not maintain a written plan."
In an emergency, the effectiveness of response depends on advanced planning and training. Managements commitment and employee involvement are essential to the action plan. The emergency response plan should cover all potential emergencies that could be expected at the work site. The written emergency action plan must be kept at the workplace and made available for employees to review. It should be reevaluated and updated periodically. The following elements, at a minimum, must be included in the plan:
Every employee needs to know the details of the emergency action plan including types of potential emergencies, evacuation procedures, alarm systems, reporting procedures, and shutdown procedures. Random emergency drills should be held at least annually. If possible, they should include outside police and fire authorities.
Emergency procedure training should be conducted when new employees are hired and at least annually thereafter. Additional training is needed when new equipment, materials or processes are introduced, when procedures have been updated or revised, and when exercises show that employee performance is inadequate.
Chain of Command
A chain of commend should be established so that employees know who has authority for making decisions. An emergency response coordinator and a backup coordinator should be designated. Adequate backup must be arranged so that trained personnel are always available. Coordinator duties include:
Emergency Response Teams
The Emergency Response Teams are the first line of defense in emergencies. Team members should be thoroughly trained for potential emergencies and physically capable of carrying out their duties; know about toxic hazards in the workplace and be able to judge when to evacuate personnel or depend on outside help (e.g. when a fire is too large for them to handle). One or more teams should be trained in:
Effective emergency communication is vital. Employees must know how to report emergencies. And a method of communication should be established to alert employees to evacuate or to take other emergency action described in the plan. An alarm system should be in place, distinctive and recognizable enough to signal the emergency action.
An alternate area for a communications center may be necessary if the work site must be evacuated. The emergency coordinator should have an updated list of key personnel, of employees, and of employee relatives to be notified in case of emergency. There should be a system for accounting for personnel once they have been evacuated. The person in the control center is responsible for notifying police or emergency response team members of persons believed missing.
Effective personal protection is essential for any person who may be exposed to potentially hazardous substances. In emergency situations employees may be exposed to a wide variety of hazardous circumstances, like chemical splashes, falling object, flying particles, unknown atmospheres with inadequate oxygen or toxic gases, fires, and live electrical wiring. It is extremely important the employees be adequately protected in these situation and that the equipment selected meet the criteria contained in Cal/OSHA standards. Some of the safety equipment that may be used includes:
In an emergency, time is a critical factor in minimizing injuries and damage. Employers not near an infirmary, clinic or hospital should have someone on site trained in first aid, have medical personnel readily available for advice and consultation, and develop written emergency medical procedures.
Employers should have first aid supplies for trained personnel to use, emergency phone numbers posted in conspicuous places near or on telephones, and prearranged ambulance services for emergencies.
"Information or recommendations contained in these articles were obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the date of publication. Information is only advisory and does not presume to be exhaustive or inclusive of all workplace hazards or situations."
The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.