Developing an Emergency Response Plan

ERPDeveloping an emergency response plan is an essential part of any construction safety plan and goes a long way to protect workers–and anyone on the job site–in the event of a variety of disasters. Building evacuations, CPR training and sheltering from severe weather are just a few of the scenarios where an emergency response plan comes into action. Chemical spills and malfunctioning building utilities can also precipitate the need for an emergency plan.

Any emergency response plan should include a list of potential scenarios, or a risk assessment to prepare appropriate response actions. When an emergency occurs, the first priority is always life safety. The second priority is the stabilization of the incident. Specific procedures should be followed to minimize damage to a building and prevent environmental damage.

Following the personal safety of those on a worksite, a plan should also include a process for damage assessment, salvage, protection of undamaged property and cleanup following an incident.

OSHA provides the following basic elements of an EAP:

  • Evacuation procedures and emergency escape 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 an emergency evacuation has been completed.
  • Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them.
  • Means of reporting fires and other emergencies.
  • Names or job titles of persons who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan.

OSHA’s Fact Sheet on Planning and Responding to Workplace Emergencies summarizes key elements of emergency preparedness and response: establishing emergency plans, training workers on the plan, providing personal protective equipment, and engaging in organized response operations. The Fact Sheet also highlights the importance of having a chain of command and maintaining warning and communication systems.

Some businesses may be required by regulation to establish Emergency Action Plans meeting certain requirements (see 1910.38 and OSHA’s compliance policy for more information). Effective plans should take into account what personal protective equipment workers may require, as well as other procedural protocol. Exit routes tailored to the type of building that is under construction (for example, high-rise office building, industrial or retail) is also a fundamental aspect of an emergency response plan.

It is also important to note that some state occupational safety and health plans have even more stringent conditions than the Federal OSHA requirements.

The following resources provide additional guidance for emergency planning and response:

Principal Emergency Response and Preparedness Requirements and Guidance.

Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Inspection Procedures.

DisasterAssistance.gov. DisasterAssistance.gov provides preparedness resources as well as information about current emergencies.

ReadyRating.org. The Red Cross Ready Rating Program is a resource for businesses, organizations, and schools to evaluate and improve their level of preparedness for emergencies.

For more information, contact Diversified Safety Services.

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