Course 600 - Introduction to Occupational Safety and Health

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Emergency Action Plans

Introduction

Emergency Checklist
Emergency action plans should be written and available for employee review.

How would you escape from your workplace in an emergency? Do you know where all the exits are in case your first choice is too crowded? Are you sure the doors will be unlocked and the exit route, such as a hallway, will not be blocked during a fire, explosion, or other crisis? Knowing the answers to these questions could keep you safe during an emergency.

Exit Route

An exit route is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety. An exit route consists of three parts:

  • Exit access - portion of an exit route that leads to an exit.
  • Exit - portion of an exit route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.
  • Exit discharge - part of the exit route that leads directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside.

Number of Exit Routes

Normally, a workplace must have at least two exit routes to permit prompt evacuation of employees and other building occupants during an emergency. More than two exits are required, however, if the number of employees, size of the building, or arrangement of the workplace will not allow employees to evacuate safely. Exit routes must be located as far away as practical from each other in case one is blocked by fire or smoke. But, there is one exception to this rule. If the number of employees, the size of the building, its occupancy, or the arrangement of the workplace allows all employees to evacuate safely during an emergency, one exit route is permitted.

There are some other design and construction requirements for exit routes:

Exit sign
Emergency exit routes must be clearly marked and unobstructed.
  • Exit routes must be permanent parts of the workplace
  • Exit discharges must lead directly outside to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space. These exit discharge areas must be large enough to accommodate the building occupants likely to use the exit route
  • Exit stairs that continue beyond the level on which the exit discharge is located must be interrupted at that level of doors, partitions, or other effective means that clearly indicate the direction of travel leading to the exit discharge.
  • Exit route doors must be unlocked from the inside. They must be free of devices or alarms that could restrict use of the exit route if the device or alarm fails.
  • Side-hinged exit doors must be used to connect rooms to exit routes. These doors must swing out in the direction of exit travel if the room is occupied by more than 50 people OR if the room is a high-hazard area.
  • Exit routes must support the maximum permitted occupant load for each floor served, and the capacity of an exit route shouldn't decrease in the direction of exit route travel to the exit discharge.
  • Exit route ceilings must be at least 7 feet, 6 inches high
  • An exit access must be at least 28 inches wide at all points. If there is only one exit access leading to an exit or exit discharge, the width of the exit and exit discharge must be at least equal to the width of the exit access. Objects that project into the exit must not reduce its width.

Emergency Action Plan Requirements

Employers are required to have an emergency action plan (EAP) only when applicable OSHA standard requires it. However, OSHA strongly recommends ALL employers have an EAP. Employers need to have certain elements on hand for several different situations. For example, they need to have procedures for reporting fires and other emergencies, emergency evacuation plans, and an alarm system to alert workers of the problem.

  • If a company has 10 or fewer employees, a supervisor may communicate its emergency action plan orally.
  • If the company has more than 10 employees, emergency action plan must be written, kept in the workplace, and available for employee review.

Supervisors must designate and train their employees to assist in a safe and orderly evacuation of all employees. They must also review the EAP with each employee covered when the following occur:

  • Plan is developed or an employee is assigned initially to a job
  • Employee's responsibilities under the plan changes
  • Plan is changed

Sample Emergency Action Plan Template:     PDF

Fire Prevention Plan

A fire prevention plan must be in writing, kept in the workplace, and made available to employees to review.

  • If an employer has 10 or fewer employees, supervisors may communicate the plan orally.
  • If an employer has more than 10 employees, the employer must communicate the plan in writing.

A fire prevention plan must list all major fire hazards, proper handling and storage materials, and the type of fire protection equipment necessary to control each fire hazard. The FPP must also include the name or job title of the employees who are responsible for maintaining equipment to prevent or control sources of ignition or fires. When supervisors assign employees to jobs, they must inform the employees of any fire hazards they may be exposed to. Employers must also review with each employee those parts of the fire prevention plan necessary for self-protection.

Sample Fire Prevention Plan Template:     PDF

Instructions

Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. Which of the following is that part of the exit route that leads directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside?

2. Exit route doors must be locked from the inside.

3. If a company has more than ______ employees, emergency action plan MUST be written, kept in the workplace, and available for employee review.

4. Supervisors must designate and train their employees to assist in a safe and orderly evacuation of all employees.

5. A fire prevention plan must list all of the following, EXCEPT _____.


Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.