Emergency Action Plan intends to encompass all possible emergency scenarios and the necessary steps and precautions to be followed while dealing with workplace accidents and other forms of disasters.
Although it is impossible to predict any unfortunate circumstances that might lead to an emergency in a workplace, having an EAP could give one an upper hand in being prepared for disasters. In addition to protecting the property or the resources in a given workplace, the primary goal of an EAP is to prevent injuries and harm to human life.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or 'OSHA' mandates the imposition of EAP in workplaces as a legal requirement before a workplace can function. Keep reading to learn more about EAP and why each workplace is mandated to have one.
Table of Contents:
- EAP – What Does It Mean?
- How Does A Workplace Benefit From an EAP?
- How Is An EAP Created?
- What Does An EAP Include?
- What Are The Five Steps to Creating an EAP?
- Reviewing And Refining An EAP
EAP – What Does It Mean?
Simply put, EAP or an Emergency Action plan entails a workplace's preparedness for an emergency. EAP is often preserved in workplaces in the form of a written document for legal purposes, although it can be outlined orally to employees. Each EAP is complicit with the OSHA federal regulations. The goal of an EAP in a workplace is to streamline, coordinate and organize employer and employee actions and improve responses during a disaster or emergency. It is one of the important aspects of workplace safety that every employer needs to know.
How Does A Workplace Benefit From an EAP?
The most apparent benefit that an EAP provides a workplace is 'preparation.' Beyond the structure and organization of steps that outline preparation measures, the benefits of EAP can be summarised under three broad questions.
What are the immediate benefits of an EAP?
Backed up with adequate training, the benefits of EAP that are immediately apparent are as follows:
- Communication: There is a mutual understanding of what each person in a workplace must do in an emergency.
- Consistency: The established plan of action would be the same across the organization.
- Compliance: As mentioned earlier, an EAP is preserved in written form, although verbal communication can also ensure employee compliance. When a workplace has more than eleven employees, however, OSHA mandates that each employee be given a copy of the EAP and that the employees have a right to review it.
What are the benefits of having an EAP when a disaster strikes?
With a specialist consultation, EAP can help during emergencies by creating a well-trained and integrated response from all employees that avoids panic and injury through a thoughtful and procedural plan of action. The following are the benefits of EAP during a disaster:
- Minimal injury or threat to the life of human resources and significantly lower chances of severe injuries.
- Reduced risk of the infrastructure suffering structural damages and reduced loss of property.
What are the long-term benefits of having an EAP?
There are several long-term benefits of EAP that can be summarised as follows:
- Development of more B2B partnerships: Most B2B enterprises require their partners to have an EAP in place, as it reduces the risk of a supply chain disruption during a disaster. Thus, EAP can cut competition in the market, as businesses prefer to partner with firms that have an EAP in place.
- Customer loyalty: Customers are loyal to a company or an organization as long as their products or services are delivered to them under the specified time. An EAP ensures that a company recovers in minimal time after an emergency, preventing delays in providing products and services to the customers.
- Improving communication: EAP ensures that at least one employee is fully aware of the emergency's nature and impact, which can be contacted by those who wish to know more about the incident. Thus, the negative perception that people might develop about EAP can be avoided when they get a clear idea of what has transpired inside the workplace during the emergency. An EAP can inform clients and stakeholders about the disaster and provide an estimated time when a business can revert to normalcy.
- Lesser dependency on insurance: Although insurance is essential, it does not cover all aspects of a business, such as its customer base. Through a well-enforced EAP, workplaces can have a backup for the protection that an insurance agency provides.
- Lesser dependency on government: During disasters that are not localized, government disaster-relief agencies might be overwhelmed with relief activities. Workplaces might not get the attention they need on time – having an EAP would ensure that workplaces carry out their disaster relief activities in a safe and timely manner.
- Avoiding failure: A workplace's response towards an emergency would eventually determine their chances of survival in the competitive global market.
How Is An EAP created?
The procedural steps that have to be followed in creating an effective EAP are as follows:
- Establishing a chain of command.
- Ensuring that PPE kits are in place.
- Clear demarcation of routes of exit for guests and employees of a workplace.
- The parameters would determine whether the situation requires evacuation or whether people must stay in place and take cover.
- Designate employees who must remain in the facility longer to ensure that necessary procedures, equipment, or operations are shut down.
What Does An EAP Include?
Organizations and workplaces can create an EAP that suits their requirements. However, under the regulations of OSHA, an EAP must include at least the following elements:
- The title/designation of employees who fully understand the plan and can be reached by other authorities when they wish to understand the plan better.
- Clear procedures to report any emergency, including fire.
- The steps are to be carried out by employees in charge of shutting down critical operations before evacuation.
- Assignment of exit routes and procedures for different types of evacuations under emergency conditions.
- Rescue procedures and medical aid that employees must take if they are assigned such responsibilities.
- The steps to be taken after evacuation, such as taking account of personnel.
To ensure that an EAP is robust, organizations must provide training through mock drills and practices. Beyond training and the procedural steps of carrying out an evacuation under an EAP, a workplace should have an alarm system that is functional and well-maintained. Each emergency must be designated a specific signal which should be known to the employees beforehand.
What Are The Five Steps to Creating an EAP?
Step 1: Workplaces must create a team to construct an EAP that must ensure the participation and proper communication of all employees and the management team.
Step 2: Identifying potential workplace hazards through a comprehensive risk assessment program.
Step 3: The objective of an EAP has to be determined.
Step 4: Everything relevant to the EAP must be furnished in a document following the guidelines specified by OSHA.
Step 5: Workplaces must form an additional team that will be in charge of emergency responses, and the team would be the first to initial response activities during the event of a disaster.
Reviewing And Refining An EAP
Although it is necessary to provide employees training on how to respond to emergencies through teaching them how to handle first aid and fire extinguishers, workplaces need to ensure that the employees do not forget their training. An annual refresher of the EAP is recommended in addition to the reviews of EAP under any of the following circumstances
- When an employee is hired.
- When an EAP is changed or modified.
- When the emergency response duties of an employee change.
In effect, EAP can save businesses by saving the lives of its employees and reducing the impact of the damage in the event of a disaster. A contingency plan such as the EAP further reassures the workers about the safety of their workplace, which improves their morale, which translates into productivity and overall profit.