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Posted on February 27, 2013 by

OSHA Requirements for Emergency Preparedness

Companies in office environments may have a tougher time recognizing when they are in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) rules. Employers are legally obligated to provide a safe workplace for their employees. Any employee can report an instance of potentially unsafe working conditions to OSHA. For businesses in industries such as manufacturing, medical, food service, or retail, OSHA’s standards should already be in place to prevent hazardous working conditions.

However, OSHA states that any employer must have threat prevention measures in place to keep employees safe. For example, if you failed to properly exterminate your office for pests, and an employee was bit by a black widow or brown recluse spider you would be in violation of OSHA’s standards. Other more serious examples would be not having proper fire hoses or extinguishers or failure to practice a tornado drill prior to a natural disaster.

OSHA has the right to inspect your emergency plans and investigate your place of business(linked to recent OSHA violations) at any time, and a representative can show up at your office without advanced notice. And don’t wait for the arrival of a threat to develop your crisis management strategy. Preparing emergency plans ahead of time can limit your exposure to violations. OSHA defines these measures Emergency Action Plan (EAP).

Here are common FAQs for OSHA and emergency preparedness.

Do I need an EAP?
Any business with more than 10 employees must have a written emergency plan. Companies with less than 10 employees may communicate it verbally

What should my EAP include?

– How to report emergencies including fires, workplace violence, and natural disasters
Evacuation procedures and how to account for employees following an emergency
– Assigned crisis leaders, as these appointed personnel would be contacted for explaining their duties in the emergency action plan
– A description of the emergency notification system

What are other steps I can take to show OSHA my business is in compliance?
– Conduct a vulnerability assessment documenting any risks to employees
– Documented dates of inspecting smoke detectors, fire alarms, extinguishers and other emergency equipment
– Invite local authorities (police or fire marshall) to tour your office and show them your exit route design
– Host quarterly trainings and tabletop drills for employees on different threats

Preparis has a team of subject matter experts to help you navigate OSHA’s regulations. If you need support designing an emergency plan, our team is ready to help assess your risks and document your companies needs for an EAP. For more information, e-mail us at info@preparis.com or give us a call at 404.662.2950. Also, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates on industry news and events.

About Marlia Fontaine-Weisse

Marlia Fontaine-Weisse is the Content Manager for Preparis.

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