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Course 717 - Emergency Action Plans

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Policies and Procedures

Multiple Policies

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It may be impossible to provide a one-fits-all plan for all situations. There is no guarantee that a perfect response to disaster emergency incidents will be practical or possible. In fact, "stuff" will happen during an emergency that may have been impossible to foresee or plan for. Therefore, most EAPs address basic emergency planning, response procedures, and evaluation.

At the time of an emergency, employees should know what type of evacuation is necessary and what their role is in carrying out the plan. In some cases where the emergency is very grave, total and immediate evacuation of all employees is necessary. In other emergencies, a partial evacuation of non-essential employees with a delayed evacuation of others may be necessary for continued plant operation. In some cases, only those employees in the immediate area of the fire may be expected to evacuate or move to a safe area such as when a local application fire suppression system discharge employee alarm is sounded. Employees must be sure that they know what is expected of them in all such emergency possibilities which have been planned in order to provide assurance of their safety from fire or other emergency.

Duties and Responsibilities of the EAP Team

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The EAP may specify different actions for employees depending on the emergency. For example, employers may want to have employees assemble in one area of the workplace if it is threatened by a tornado or earthquake but evacuate to an exterior location during a fire.

Designate who, if anyone, will stay to shut down critical operations during an evacuation.

You may want to include in your plan locations where utilities (such as electrical and gas utilities) can be shut down for all or part of the facility. All individuals remaining behind to shut down critical systems or utilities must be capable of recognizing when to abandon the operation or task and evacuate themselves.

Determine Specific Evacuation Routes and Exits

Exit Routes and More - Federal Safety Solutions

Most employers create maps from floor diagrams with arrows that designate the exit route assignments. These maps should include locations of exits, assembly points and equipment (such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, spill kits) that may be needed in an emergency. Exit routes should be clearly marked and well lit, wide enough to accommodate the number of evacuating personnel, unobstructed and clear of debris at all times, and unlikely to expose evacuatinpersonnel to additional hazards.

Here are some important requirements to consider:

  • Make exit route design permanent.
  • Ensure the number of exit routes is adequate based on the number of employees, the size of the building, its occupancy, and the arrangement of the workplace.
  • Separate an exit route from other workplace areas with materials that have the proper fire resistance-rating for the number of stories the route connects.
  • Ensure exit routes meet width and height requirements. The width of exit routes must be sufficient to accommodate the maximum permitted occupant load of each floor served by the exit route.
  • Ensure doors used to access exit routes have side hinges and swing in the direction of travel (depending on occupancy and hazard areas).
  • Design exit routes which lead to an outside area with enough space for all occupants.
  • An outdoor exit route is permitted, but may have additional site-specific requirements.

Determine Specific Evacuation Routes and Exits (Continued)

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Here are some more important requirements to consider when developing effective evacuation:

  • Maintain the fire-retardant properties of paints and solutions that are used in exit routes.
  • Ensure required exit routes and fire protections are available and maintained, especially during repairs and alterations.
  • Ensure employee alarm systems are installed, operable, and in compliance with 29 CFR 1910.165 (Note: See Section I.A.5.).
  • Direct employees through exit routes using clearly visible signs. These signs must meet the required letter height and illumination specifications.
  • When openings could be mistaken for an exit, post appropriate signs stating "NOT AN EXIT."
  • Arrange exit routes so employees are not exposed to the dangers of high hazard areas.
  • Exit routes must be free and unobstructed. Prevent obstructions, such as decorations, furnishings, locked doorways, and dead-ends within exit routes.

Check out this short audio clip by Dan Clark of the theSafetyBrief.com that gives a good overview of exit route requirements.

Assisting People During Evacuations

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Employees designated to assist in emergency evacuation procedures should be trained in the complete workplace layout and various alternative escape routes.

Employees designated to assist in emergencies should be made aware of employees with special needs (who may require extra assistance during an evacuation), how to use the buddy system, and any hazardous areas to avoid during an emergency evacuation. If there are any employees with special needs at your worksite it will be important to be aware of their needs once evacuated. You may want to consider evacuating all special needs employees to the same location if possible. At the very least consider whether the designated evacaution area is suitable to meet the needs of any special needs employees while an emergency is being addressed.

Accounting for all Employees

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Accounting for all employees following an evacuation is critical. Confusion in the assembly areas can lead to delays in rescuing anyone trapped in the building, or unnecessary and dangerous search-and-rescue operations. To ensure the fastest, most accurate accounting of your employees, consider taking a head count after the evacuation. The names and last known locations of anyone not accounted for should be passed on to the official in charge.

Accounting for Visitors

Some employers have all visitors and contractors sign in when entering the workplace. The hosts and/or area wardens, if established, are often tasked with assisting these individuals evacuate safely.

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. Most EAPs address _____ emergency planning, response and evaluation.

2. What must you know if you are assigned to stay behind to shut down critical systems during an emergency?

3. The adequacy of exit routes is based on all of the following, EXCEPT _____.

4. What action should be taken if an opening could be mistaken for an exit?

5. What action should be taken to ensure the fastest, most accurate accounting of your employees after an evacuation?


Have a great day!

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