OSHA Crisis Management: How Strong is Your EAP?
If you are running a business with a large number of employees, it is likely you are already familiar with OSHA. But even if you are, it is interesting to note its history and where it fits in. Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 in light of the need to address occupational safety for workers across different sectors in the country. With the passing of the OSH Act of 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was born. OSHA is a part of the Department of Labor, and it is responsible for administering the OSH Act of 1970 and all applicable regulations born from it.
Passed with bipartisan support, OSHA 1970 marked a historic moment for national reform. The OSHA law was passed to ensure that no worker should ever have to choose between their life and their job. The law effectively made the right to a safer workplace a legal imperative across the country.
Instilling the Necessity for Safer Workplace Environments
Right from the first day that OSHA came into effect and the agency started working, it has made a marked difference countrywide. Workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths have drastically dropped over the decades. OSHA’s safety standards, compliance assistance, cooperative programs, and enforcement actions continue to make the lives of workers safer.
Among the OSHA safety standards which have become mandatory regulations for workplaces is the Emergency Action Plan. According to article 1910.38(a) in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, an employer must have an emergency action plan wherever necessary.
Does your business have an Emergency Action Plan in place?
Who Needs an EAP?
The requirement to develop an emergency action plan depends on the number of employees that are actually present within a workplace any time during the work day. Based on OSHA’s regulations, employers who have ten or fewer employees do not need to create a written EAP, but they are still required to communicate an EAP to the staff.
An EAP is a written document that is required by OSHA standards at workplaces. The EAP effectively is needed to ensure that employers and employees have an organized course of action during emergencies. The EAP does not just involve drawing up a plan, it also requires proper employee training so that employees understand their responsibilities for the implementation of the plan.
The purpose of the EAP is to make sure everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency so there are fewer and less severe injuries. If an EAP is improperly enacted with inadequate training, it can lead to a disorganized response to workplace emergencies, resulting in higher risks of injury.
Ideally, the minimum requirements of an EAP are as follows:
- The plan should provide a means to report fires and other kinds of emergencies
- Evacuation plans with emergency escape route assignments
- Procedures for employees responsible to operate critical operations before their evacuation turn comes
- Accounting of all employees after the evacuation is complete
- Rescue and medical duties for employees who will perform them
- Names or job titles of people who can be contacted in case of emergencies
The plan can include more measures to ensure better workplace safety in case of emergencies and it is, in fact, recommended to have more aspects to the EAP.
OSHA has comprehensive online resources that can help employers develop a proper and well thought-out EAP. If you already have an EAP in place, there is a checklist you can refer to so that you can determine how strong your emergency action plan is, and if you need to make any improvements.