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Is Your Facility Prepared for an Emergency?

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM)! NPM is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster planning now and throughout the year.

The 2020 theme is Disasters Don’t Wait- Make your Plan Today.

The same principles promoted for NPM apply to prepare for workplace emergencies. Specifically, starting with an up-to-date Emergency Action Plan!

Emergency Action Plans and Contingency Plans are required by various regulations, including  OSHA 29 CFR 1910.38 and 157, Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code 527 CMR 1.0, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection 310 CMR 30.000.

It’s important to know if your facility is required to have an Emergency Action Plan or a Contingency Plan because regulators will look for the appropriate implementation during inspections.

All employees must have access to the written Plan and be trained on it. It’s critical that everyone be well-versed in proper response procedures should an incident occur! It’s good practice to hold drills for the various emergency situations that could arise at your site so employees are familiar with the response procedures.

It’s nearly impossible to predict how individuals will respond in a true emergency situation, so providing an opportunity to practice is key to successful implementation.

Think about the last time you held a fire drill, mock spill response training, or training to remind all employees of the steps to take in a medical emergency situation.

Was it recent enough to ensure a smooth response in the event of an actual emergency? For instance, if there was a chemical spill, would employees know:

  • Who to call if they are involved with the spill?
  • How to determine if a spill is controlled or uncontrolled?
  • What measures to take to handle a controlled or uncontrolled spill scenario? 
  • Where the spill kits are located and how to use them?
  • Where to locate the phone number for your spill response vendor for uncontrolled spills?

Remember that it is important to keep your Plan current!  The Emergency Action Plan or Contingency Plan must be tailored as programs change and companies grow.

Any major changes, such as a newly designated Emergency Coordinator, or modification to the rally point, should be reflected immediately, as required by OSHA.

Also, consider less obvious changes to the Plan including the introduction of new hazards to the facility, increased chemical use resulting in altered spill potential, or modifications to waste storage locations.

If any part of the written Plan fails in an emergency situation, the Plan must be reviewed and revised immediately to reflect the appropriate response measures.

For additional information on emergency response planning, or for assistance with creating or updating your facility’s Emergency Action Plan or Contingency Plan, please email [email protected].

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