An Effective, and Necessary, Collaborative Tool for Job Site Safety
As Construction Safety Week 2002 wanes, we want to discuss emergency action planning. OSHA requires formalized Emergency Action Plans (EAP) for all employers. For companies with more than 10 employees, the EAP must be written; but companies with fewer than 10 employees may communicate their EAP orally. Regardless of approach, the EAP should be a concise, but comprehensive, action plan for worksite-specific emergencies.
Preferably, EAPs should result from a collaborative process, with the planning involving all levels of your project team, both management and employees. OSHA’s minimum requirements for written EAPs include: 1) procedures for reporting a fire or other emergency; 2) procedures for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments; 3) procedures for employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before evacuation; 4) procedures to account for all employees after evacuation; 5) procedures for employees performing rescue or medical duties; and 6) the name or job title of every employee who may be contacted by employees who need more information about the EAP or an explanation of their duties under the EAP.
Employers must have and maintain an employee alarm system and the employee alarm system must use a distinctive signal for each purpose (and otherwise be compliant with OSHA’s standards). Employers must designate and train employees to assist in a safe and orderly evacuation of other employees. Employers must intermittently review the EAP with each employee covered by the EAP, including: 1) when the EAP is developed or the employee is assigned initially to a job; 2) when the employee’s responsibilities under the EAP change; and 3) when the EAP is changed.
There are no one-size-fits-all EAPs. Each EAP must be specifically tailored, taking into consideration the work required, the job site(s) where the work will be taking place, the nature of other work taking place around your employees, and similar types of factors. EAPs can be complex, or simple, depending upon the nature of the project and the project’s risk factors. Whatever the nature of the EAP, though, it must be understandable at all levels and should be a “living document” that incorporates new elements and ideas during project performance. Copies of your EAPs should be available in convenient locations where all employees have access, if written EAPs are required. Even if your company has fewer than 10 employees, having a well-considered written plan has practical benefits over the minimum verbal communication requirement.