How and why you need to create Workplace Emergency Action Plan

Because of all the risks and potential workplace dangers that could arise at any moment, it can be extremely challenging to prepare the workplace for emergencies.

However, with a well-developed and thorough emergency action plan can organizations and workplaces prepare themselves for various unexpected events. In addition to being mandated by OSHA, emergency action plans have proven to be an invaluable resource for organizations by helping to preserve lives and property.

In this post, we’ll go over an emergency action plan, what goes into one, and how to put together one tailored to the specific dangers and threats you face on the job. Furthermore, it describes some of the gains you may expect to make through formulating and executing a sound strategy.

Understanding Emergency Action Plan

An emergency is any unforeseen circumstance that forces you to temporarily or permanently close your workplace, disrupts operations, causes environmental or physical harm, and threatens your company’s finances or reputation.

Also, situations that result in the loss of life or severe injury to your employees, customers, or members of the general public are considered an emergency. Therefore, every workplace needs to have an emergency action plan.

By definition, an emergency action plan (EAP) is a written policy outlining the proper reaction to different forms of workplace emergencies. Thus, an EAP should be considered a mandatory part of any responsible company’s safety measures.

There are several situations in which an EAP would prove valuable. However, it would help if you kept in mind that many emergency responses share some commonalities. Still, each will also have its characteristics that must be considered.

In other words, various emergency replies will provide advice that differs significantly from one another. For instance, there are significant distinctions between fires and tornadoes. The priority during a fire escape is getting out of the work area; during a tornado response and rescue, it’s sheltering inside the structure.

Here are some of the emergencies:

  • Fire outbreak
  • Workplace violence, like fights between workers or intruders, gets into your workplace.
  • Workplace accidents like when an employee sustains injuries or choked
  • Chemical spills
  • Bomb threats

These emergencies can have a significant influence on any business. Therefore it’s crucial to anticipate those that are likely to occur at your workplace and develop one that suits your workplace risks and hazards.

In a nutshell, a contingency plan details steps to take in the event of an emergency. It aim to:

  • Keep people from becoming hurt or killed
  • Keep the community and the environment safe
  • Bring back regular service as soon as possible
  • Lessen the amount of destruction done to structures, supplies, and machinery

What are the elements of workplace emergency action plan?

It’s highly unlikely that any 2 EAPs will be the same. The specifics of an EAP will be influenced by various factors, including the building’s design or layout, operating hours, and employee credentials. Most EAPs will share a few commonalities, including:

  • Preferred methods of reporting urgent situations
  • Employee notification and alarm system description
  • Plans for and allocations of emergency exits and other evacuation measures
  • Workers who stay at their posts when the alarm goes off should follow these procedures.
  • Worker Counting Procedures in the Event of an Evacuation
  • Details about the personnel tasked with rescue and healthcare duties
  • Specify how staff will be briefed and educated on the plan’s contents.
  • List of personnel who can be contacted for more plan details.
  • A directory of important people to reach out to in case of emergency outside of normal business hours

Some components of a contingency plan may also include the ones listed below. These components may not be necessary for every workplace, but they do provide a framework for developing an effective workplace plan:

Objective of the plan

The goal of the strategy is to lessen the number of casualties and the amount of property and environmental damage caused by a disaster. It also details which employees have the authority to implement the strategy.

Due to the unpredictability of the traditional chain of command, the objective should detail which employees fall into this category. One of them has to be present whenever the building is occupied. And there needs to be a clear distinction between the roles and responsibilities of these employees.

Leadership or organization

One person is recommended to be nominated and trained to serve as the Emergency Co-coordinator. However, having on-site workers during a crisis is essential for taking swift and effective action to limit the damage. It’s feasible to bring in off-duty workers in some situations, but vital choices must be taken immediately.


In emergencies, the necessary processes depend on several conditions, including:

  • Nature of cause of the emergency
  • Degree or the severity of the situation
  • Organizational size.
  • How well can an organization respond to a crisis
  • Immediate assistance from the outside world
  • The building’s physical or structural configuration

Importance of creating a workplace emergency action plan

Organizations must have a thorough, detailed emergency preparedness strategy to respond to any event, from natural calamities to acts of violence.

Besides, in an emergency, have a strategy to ensure the safety of your staff, equipment, and surrounding. It’s easy for a bad situation to become much more dangerous as people panic during an emergency. But with a proper plan, workers will know how to handle various circumstances.

Here are some reasons why every workplace must consider developing an effective emergency strategy plan.

Increases your after-disaster survival chances

Forty percent or more of firms that close after a natural or artificial disaster never reopen. If your company is prepared for calamities, it will have a better chance of surviving or continuing operations after disasters. Simply put, it helps save staff and organization lives.

Image alt text: emergency action plan. Workers taking part in an emergency response procedure.

Author credit: By, Public Domain,

For businesses, it help boost customer retention

When it comes to customers, it’s possible that they won’t grasp the full scope of the tragedy and its implications for your company. Customer expectations for on-time delivery of goods or services remain unchanged. A substantial delay could cause them to switch to a rival.

Improves your communication to reduce negative perceptions

A solid emergency strategy includes measures to promptly communicate with stakeholders and clients to remain updated, even if a crisis causes a slowdown or closure of your firm. Fast-moving information can lead to distorted views of the world. If you keep up with the news, people will think less negatively of you.

Help minimize losses

Typically, insurance will only cover a portion of the cost and won’t make up for everything that went wrong or win back any former employees.

The worst case is that some injuries may even lead to workplace deaths. But with a proper emergency plan, you can save your firm and workers from adverse losses.

Assists you in becoming less reliant on insurance

Although insurance is essential, it will not compensate you for all you lose; this includes any clients who may stop patronizing your business. The supplementary protection you receive from insurance can be strengthened by utilizing a reliable EAP.

Ensure you become less dependent on government aid or support

Because aid organizations are understaffed and overworked, public assistance to businesses or workplaces in the aftermath of natural catastrophes or emergencies is frequently delayed. Buy with a proper emergency plan; you’ll have solutions to various circumstances.

How to create a detailed workplace emergency plan action

The Emergency Action Plan (EAP) at your organization consists of more than a single document or brochure detailing the location of exits and alarm systems in the event of an emergency. Those are merely the beginnings of a whole EAP.

To ensure that your team can respond effectively in an emergency, your plan should detail several practices, procedures, guidelines, and diagrams. Following these steps will help you develop a solid emergency action plan:

Prepare or be ready for unexpected events and tragedies

Preventing an emergency is preferable to dealing with it after the fact. It is essential to conduct an adequate risk assessment to discover the hazards that could affect your company before you begin developing an emergency action plan. These may change based on the specifics of your industry and location.

Some plans will need to address issues arising from on-site hazardous materials; others will need to address problems associated with older buildings constructed to a lower-standard safety code; and others strategies for preparing for natural calamities.

Workplace violence, injuries, spills, and exposure to workplace hazardous materials are some artificial and natural emergencies that could arise at your company.

Additional workplace risks and hazards may include:

  • Explosion
  • Ruined structure or building collapse
  • Significant structural breakdown or failure
  • Loss of power and water supply
  • Disrupted communication

It would help if you invited government officials who have experience dealing with such crises to your institution so they may conduct a survey and offer advice. Having employees take part in the preparation process will result in a more thorough emergency action plan. Involve them in brainstorming solutions to safety problems and discussing contingency plans.

While conducting a workplace vulnerability assessment, remember that each company’s plan will be unique, owing to its operations, reporting methods, and desired actions. However, all programs should adhere to OSHA standards.

Plan Safe Spots, Evacuation or Exit Strategies

Rapid action is required during emergencies and entails two critical things; knowing what to do and where to do it.

Image alt text: emergency action plan. A national emergency preparedness campaign banner.

Author credit: By Courtesy photo –, Public Domain,

In an emergency, people should either evacuate the building immediately or be ready to move to a secure location within it. Everyone needs to have a plan on what to do in an emergency.

Employers must ensure they outline some of the best flooring plans. You don’t need to cause more fall and slips injuries. Check that your property’s floor plan is up to date. All emergency exits and escape points should be prominently displayed on the building’s floor plan.

Keep in mind that these signs are not just for the benefit of staff; visitors, especially emergency workers, will rely on them for their safety as they move about the building.

Here’s what to do during:

Unexpected events outside your workplace or building: When an emergency occurs outside the building, it is usually best to seek shelter within. Tornadoes, earthquakes, and lightning storms are typical natural disasters that can cause urgent situations outside the structure.

It is crucial to be ready to act swiftly in an emergency, even though these occurrences give varying levels of warnings before they strike.

Situations of Critical Imminence within Your Workplace:During an emergency within the building (such as a fire or a loss of electricity), the priority is to ensure everyone is safe and out of the building.

Staff members can help achieve this objective by learning the quickest and safest exit routes. In addition, it will be vital to ensure that anyone inside the facility can quickly and readily access the property’s evacuation plan.

Staff members familiar with the building’s overall layout will be better equipped to handle unexpected delays along the most frequently used emergency evacuation routes.

Cases of Critical Illness at the Workplace: It is crucial to immediately activate an EAP if an incident involving a building occupant results in injury or harm.The staff needs to plan to deal with real medical emergencies, including heart attacks and seizures.

It may be necessary to call for immediate medical attention from local authorities. Ensure that the appropriate authorities can promptly reach the victim and leave the building if necessary.

Upkeep of Workplace Safety Alert Systems

In the event of an emergency, alarm systems will often send out a signal to alert personnel so that they can take appropriate action. All staff members must be able to identify and respond to alarms, which could necessitate audible and visual notification.

In addition, alarms need to be audible over background noise and lighting. A series of horn blasts or alerts like bells can signify many types of emergencies. For businesses with ten workers or fewer, OSHA permits immediate voice communication during emergencies so long as everyone in the workplace can hear the warning.

Therefore, run a test every two months to check that your alarm system is functioning correctly and reliably and then return it to normal. If the central alarm system stops working, a backup plan such as a phone line or employee messengers should be ready to take over.

Disclose and Alert the Proper Authorities

Police, firefighters, and doctors must be called in for most crises. Usually, all you have to do is contact 9-1-1 to get in touch with the proper authorities.

So, it’s critical to have an official decision-maker within the company. The worst thing that can happen is for the authorities to take too long to respond because everyone involved just assumed someone else called them.

It’s worth noting that different types of situations call for different types of first responders. A hazardous materials team would be called to clean up a chemical spill. At the same time, the utility firm would be tasked with repairing downed electric lines or other utility-related problems.

Therefore, verify that all necessary phone numbers and addresses are included in your Emergency Action Plan.

Avail emergency tools and preparedness kits

Your workplace most likely contains a well-equipped first aid kit, CO and smoke alarms, and a fire extinguisher. Are your staff familiar with how to make use of them?

To minimize confusion or even cause worse difficulties, instructions for operating any emergency equipment should be written down and posted in a common area; ideally, these instructions should be available both within the organization and online.

The following are questions you might ask yourself to improve your chances of surviving in adverse situations:

  • Have you prepared a survival kit with extra food and water in case you get trapped?
  • Is there a backup power source, such as a generator or flashlights, in case the power goes out?
  • Could you make it through a dangerous circumstance with nothing more than a bandage on your wound?

Consider this survival checklist as a starting point for workplace safety discussion.

Provide Safety Induction for New Employees and Continued Training

Since emergencies can happen at any time, it’s essential to provide workplace safety training to establish a policy that ensures all new employees receive proper instructions on the available emergency strategies and their responsibilities.

Include a duplicate of the plan and a map of the building with the locations of all exits and other means of egress in the new hire orientation materials you offer to all employees. Furthermore, new hires must be shown to the most crucial areas, such as the emergency shelters. Find a few different exits, just in case the one nearest you is blocked.

Keep your workplace free of accidents and injuries by giving your staff annual safety refresher training.

What Should You Do After Completing Your Strategy?

If your emergency plan is never used, it was a waste of time and effort to create. There are various reasons why it must be communicated to the firm.

  • In the event of an emergency, it is imperative that all staff members are familiar with and can implement the plan.
  • The company’s top executives must commit to all the resources necessary to implement the plan.
  • It must be subject to scrutiny so that continuous enhancements are made
  • Instruction must be made available. In the same way that regular exercise makes it easier to lift heavy objects, practicing emergency plans can make a life-threatening situation feel more manageable.

In other words, once you have thoroughly created your emergency plan, now it’s time for:

 Real-timeTesting, Evaluation, and Alteration

Making a thorough strategy for dealing with emergencies is a crucial step in avoiding catastrophes. However, without testing the plan, it’s hard to foresee all of the potential problems that may arise.

In other words, it permits workers to swiftly and efficiently implement the plan in a real-time emergency.

Drills and exercises can test the entire strategy or only the most critical parts (like the evacuation procedure). Immediate and in-depth analysis following each practice or real-life emergency will reveal weak spots. Paper examinations and interviews are viable options for gauging candidates’ familiarity with their assigned tasks.


Conversations regarding workplace safety typically focus on measures taken to ensure that tasks are carried out risk-free. But there’s more to it than that if you care about the security of your people.

You must make preparations to ensure everyone’s safety in the case of an unexpected disaster. Do not put off making preparations for any foreseeable contingency. Create an EAP now that can expand with your company as it develops.