Exit Routes/Emergency and Active Shooter Planning

Emergency evacuations are more common than many people realize, including evacuations in the workplace. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the most frequent causes of evacuations in the U.S. each year are fires and floods. In addition, a wide variety of emergencies, both man-made and natural, may require a workplace to be evacuated. These emergencies may include explosions, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, hazardous/toxic material releases, radiological and biological accidents, civil disturbances and workplace violence.

Deciding whether to shelter-in-place or evacuate to safety (i.e., get away from a threat or hazard) is among the most important decisions that must be made during an emergency. Employers should understand and plan for both scenarios. In any emergency, the local authorities may or may not be able to provide information immediately to assess the situation. Employers should consider how the situation might impact workers sheltering-in-place at a job site versus workers attempting to evacuate to safety.

Summary

An emergency action plan (EAP) is usually a written document required by particular OSHA standards. For smaller organizations, the plan does not need to be written and may be communicated orally if there are 10 or fewer employees. [29 CFR 1910.38(b)] The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. The elements of the plan must include, but are not limited to:

  • Means of reporting fires and other emergencies
  • 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
  • Names or job titles of persons who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan

Every employer is covered. Sections 1910.34 through 1910.39 apply to workplaces in general industry except mobile workplaces such as vehicles or vessels.

Exits routes are covered. The rules in §§ 1910.34 through 1910.39 cover the minimum requirements for exit routes that employers must provide in their workplace so that employees may evacuate the workplace safely during an emergency. Sections 1910.34 through 1910.39 also cover the minimum requirements for emergency action plans and fire prevention plans.

Please use the links below to access OSHA tools to assist employers with Emergency Action Plans and Fire Prevention Plans.

Exit Routes and Emergency Action Plan Safety Training Resources
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