Published 10 Jul 2023
What is an Emergency Action Plan?
An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is a comprehensive documentation of procedures based on the required emergency standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Organizations with more than 10 employees should develop, implement, and update their emergency action plan to facilitate and organize their actions during workplace emergencies such as severe weather, extended power loss, pandemic, and more. This extensive documentation process can prevent issues such as a poorly executed evacuation and injuries to employees during unforeseen situations. To create a successful EAP, an organization should properly determine the key areas and include bare minimum requirements such as procedures for reporting emergencies and evacuation.
In this article
- What is an Emergency Action Plan Template?
- What Should the Checklist Include?
- Importance of the Plan and Why it Should be Updated
- How to Put an Emergency Action Plan to the Test
- FAQs about Emergency Action Plan
- Get Ahead in the Event of Any Workplace Emergency
- Featured Emergency Action Plan Templates
What is an Emergency Action Plan Template?
An emergency action plan template is a digital tool used by safety and health managers of large enterprises or owners of small to medium businesses to record their guidelines for workplace emergencies. According to the federal regulations for occupational safety and health standards, here are the minimum elements of an emergency action plan:
- Procedures for reporting a fire or other emergency
- Procedures for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments
- Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate
- Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation
- Procedures to be followed by employees performing rescue or medical duties
- The name or job title of every employee who may be contacted by employees who need more information about the plan or an explanation of their duties under the plan
What Should the Checklist Include?
Emergency action plans can differ based on the industry and the specific business needs itself. These are, however, are the key components of an emergency action plan checklist:
- Individual roles and responsibilities
- Emergency communication procedures
- Emergency evacuations procedures
- Protection and safety equipment
- First Aid
- Emergency shutdown procedures
Importance of the Plan and Why it Should be Updated
An emergency action plan is vital for every organization to prepare and execute emergency management protocols and procedures. The purpose of an EAP is to help the organization eliminate confusion, injury, or property damage in case of a workplace emergency (e.g., blasting).
Updating workplace emergency action plans is not only crucial for proper guidance during operational emergencies, but it can also keep revealing unrecognized hazardous conditions that may worsen an emergency situation, allowing safety and health professionals to apply preventive measures. Moreover, an outdated emergency action plan can lead to devastating losses such as multiple casualties and the financial downfall of an organization.
How to Put an Emergency Action Plan to the Test
Since emergencies in the workplace will occur, safety and health managers should make sure that every worker is prepared to respond accordingly. Follow these simple ways to inculcate the practice of an emergency action plan in an organization:
1. Develop or update the emergency action plan with a cross-functional team
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) recommends that relevant individuals such as employees with knowledge of the work, employees with experience in investigations, and representatives from the local government should participate in establishing or reviewing emergency procedures. Working with a cross-functional team helps make the emergency action plan be more all-encompassing, accurate, and aligned with reality.
2. Perform announced or unannounced emergency drills
With an EAP in place, the designated responsible official should conduct an organization-wide emergency drill to determine how effectively the plan is carried out. Announced emergency drills remind emergency coordinators to review the emergency action plan, while unannounced emergency drills demonstrate how they understand what to do at the onset of emergencies. For future reference, use an emergency drill checklist to record what happened in real time. After each drill, put together a combined evaluation from both the management and the employees.
3. Assess performance against procedures in the emergency action plan
Upon completing emergency drills, gather a cross-functional team to look analyze the results. Determine the root cause of misalignment between performance and procedures, and exchange ideas about what can be done to maintain a high level of proficiency. The OSHA EAP template contains 21 critical questions to help assess the effectiveness of an emergency action plan.
4. Communicate best practices, areas of improvement, and changes to be applied
Positive reinforcement makes it easier for employees to keep doing what they did right. The designated responsible official and emergency coordinators should call out best practices such as remembering to deal with the spill in accordance with the instructions described in the material safety data sheet if the emergency drill was a chemical spill. Changes to be applied for areas of improvement should be partnered with proper training to sustain retention better.
5. Put an EAP into action regularly
OSHA advises annual emergency drills for the effective implementation of an emergency action plan. SafetyCulture suggests putting an emergency action plan to the test periodically (e.g. quarterly for organizations in high-risk industries such as construction and manufacturing or biannually for organizations in medium to low-risk industries such as retail and hospitality) to ensure the effectiveness of site-specific emergency procedures and continuously build a proactive safety culture in the workplace.
FAQs about Emergency Action Plan
It is the employer’s responsibility to establish and implement emergency action plans, as well as share information about them. However, it is also the responsibility of the employee to remember these plans and follow them.
A good emergency plan contains the following:
- Contact details of who to contact in case of emergency
- Evacuation plans that consider different locations and situations
- Proper practices to follow when evacuating or dealing with a risk
- Plans for what to do after an incident
Emergency action plans should be reviewed at least once a year. It is possible to review emergency action plans multiple times a year, but at the minimum, they should be reviewed at least once to ensure that plans are still feasible and to check if changes need to be made.
Get Ahead in the Event of Any Workplace Emergency
Documenting emergency procedures with pen-and-paper can be challenging as it requires demonstrable efforts for developing, implementing, and updating your emergency action plan. With SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor), the world’s leading inspection platform, you can empower emergency coordinators with a training and preventive action tool that helps them do the following:
- Facilitate and organize emergency actions with confidence, aligning employee performance with emergency procedures.
- Take pictures of emergency reporting and evacuation procedures, notify your staff, and instantly document changes to be applied.
- Upload annotated images of best practices or areas of improvement during emergency drills for improved visual reference.
- Save crucial data in SafetyCulture’s secure cloud storage and easily recover them when reviewing or updating emergency action plan templates.
- Worry less about complying with OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements and easily access up-to-date files through SafetyCulture’s electronic storage.
Featured Emergency Action Plan Templates
This OSHA emergency action plan template is used by organizations to evaluate their emergency action plans and improve them accordingly. This EAP template is designed to check the following:
- External and internal emergencies that could disrupt the workplace
- Impact of emergencies and appropriate response
- Contact information of persons familiar with the EAP
- Evacuation policy and procedures
- Reporting emergencies and alerting employees in an emergency
- Employee training and drills
This emergency action plan checklist is used by a provider of highly-engineered support structures for a wide variety of industries, including electric transmission and distribution, wireless communications, renewable energy, oil and gas, and government defense to audit their emergency action plan. This checklist encompasses emergency procedures for exit doors, egress, fire protection, combustible and flammable materials, and general work environment.
This EAP template is used by one of the premier electrical contractors in the United States to create an emergency action plan for every project. This template includes emergency procedures for assembly points, evacuation routes, alarm system, and training requirements. Use SafetyCulture’s drag-and-drop template editor to customize this EAP template to fulfill your business needs.