Emergencies and the Workplace

It is important for employers to provide a safe and well-protected work environment for their employees. All California employers are required to have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and a Fire Prevention Plan that include actions employers and employees must take to protect employees in emergencies. Moreover, employers must also establish an alarm system that has a distinctive signal for each purpose. Employers with 10 or more employees must provide the plan in writing. Employers with fewer than 10 employees do not need to maintain a written plan, and may explain it verbally to their employees.

Emergency Action Plan (EAP)

Employer’s EAP must include at least the following:

  • Procedures for emergency evacuation, including different methods of evacuation and locations of exit routes;
  • Procedures to be followed by employees who take control of the critical operations before the evacuation;
  • Plan to account for all employees after emergency evacuation is over;
  • Procedures to be followed by employees performing rescue and medical duties;
  • The recommended method of reporting fires and other emergencies; 
  • Names and job title of employees or departments who can be contacted for additional information or details of responsibilities under the plan.

Employers must provide training to an appropriate amount of employees to assist in the safe and organized emergency evacuation of employees. Additionally, employers must notify employees who have duties under the plan when the plan is created, the employee’s responsibilities is changed, and/or when the plan itself is changed.

Fire Prevention Requirements

Employer’s Fire Prevention Plan must include the following:

  • Employees responsible for implementing the fire prevention program;
  • Fire prevention practices;
  • Noted fire hazards in the area;
  • Fire control measures such as sprinkler systems;
  • Amount of inspection and maintenance of fire control devices;
  • Alarm systems; and
  • Other special employee duties.

Detailed prevention plans may be helpful, but it’s not fully effective without practice. To put the prevention plans to test, employers should conduct emergency drills under different conditions. Through these drills, employers can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their prevention plan and thus, make changes to improve it.