With hurricane Florence in the news and how the east coast is dealing with the storm, I was thinking about how ready are we, as employers, if an emergency hits our area. Cal/OSHA requires employers to be prepared for emergencies and in fact, it is one of the oldest OSHA requirements for employers. The regulation can be found in Title 8, Section 3220. This regulation states that every employer must have an “Emergency Action Plan” and that the plan must be in writing. The plan is to “cover those designated actions employers and employees must take to ensure employee safety from fire and other emergencies.”
So, what are those “other emergencies”? Apart from medical and chemical related emergencies, have you considered preparation for an earthquake? What about violence on the workplace or something as simple as a power outage? It is imperative that employers consider the possible emergencies that could occur at their workplace and to develop a plan of attack to ensure the safety of personnel and make that part of the Emergency Action Plan.
Cal/OSHA states that elements of the plan should include evacuation procedures which would include exit route assignments and accounting for everyone. You may have some individuals who need to stay back to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate. An important consideration is how are you going to maintain contact with those individuals?
Above, I mentioned the need to be prepared for medical emergencies, but you need to consider what steps you or your employees will take if there is a medical emergency. Calling 911 may not be sufficient or may not even be an option if you have a facility that is located in an area where emergency responders are not close. In those cases, having in-house medical responders may be appropriate. Bottom line is, every employer needs to take a close and careful look at their operations and determine how they will handle emergencies at their operations. Feel free to call The Cohen Group and we can help walk you through the process.