SafetyCulture Summit 2020

Emergency Action Plan

Get ahead in the event of any workplace emergency using digital emergency action plan templates.

Jump to featured templates
Get everyone on the same paperless page.
Rated 4.6/5 stars on Capterra from 76 ratings
Available on iOS, Android and Web
Get started for FREE

Published April 28th, 2020

What is an Emergency Action Plan?

An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is a comprehensive documentation of procedures based on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emergency standards. 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.

Emergency Action Plan Template Overview

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

This article will briefly discuss the following:

  • The importance of workplace emergency action plan and why it should be updated regularly
  • How to put an EAP into action
  • A training tool to get ahead in the event of workplace emergencies
  • Free emergency action plan templates you can download, customize, and use

Importance of Emergency Action Plan and Why it Should be Updated

An emergency action plan is vital for every organization to prepare and execute emergency protocols and procedures. It helps the organization to eliminate confusion, injury, or property damage in case of a workplace emergency.

Updating workplace emergency action plan 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:

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 the 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.

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 effective 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.

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.

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.

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 create and continuously build a proactive safety culture in the workplace.

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 iAuditor by SafetyCulture, 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 iAuditor’s secure cloud storage and easily recover them when reviewing or updating emergency action plan templates.
  • Worry less on complying with OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements and easily access up-to-date files through iAuditor’s electronic storage.


Shine Colcol

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Shine has been professionally writing about virtually anything since her internship for a digital publisher of niche blogazines. She is passionate about building a culture of continuous improvement in the environmental, health, safety, and quality space through well-researched, engaging, and impactful content.