Companies that fall under various OSHA standards such as 1910.120(l), hazardous waste operations and emergency response and 1910.119(n), process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals are required to have emergency evacuation plans that comply with 1910.38.

Written employee emergency and fire prevention plans need to be kept by the employer in the workplace for companies with more than ten employees.

Companies with ten or fewer employees may communicate the plans verbally. Employees should have access to these plans and should receive training related to emergency procedures. New employees should be informed of these plans during their orientation process. Current employees need to receive updates on plan revisions as they occur.

Employee emergency and fire prevention plans may vary to comply with specific company operation, but should follow the guidelines set by OSHA. Plans must include procedures for evacuating physically impaired workers. All employees must be familiar with the evacuation signal, whether it be communicated verbally or by bells, whistles or sirens. The alarm system must comply with scope, application, general requirements, installation and restoration, maintenance, testing and manual operation as stated in1910.165.

Emergency plans should include the following according to CFR 1910.38:

  • Emergency escape procedures and escape route assignments
  • Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to carry out critical plan operations before they evacuate
  • Procedures to account for all employees after emergency evacuations have been completed
  • Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them
  • The preferred means of reporting fires and other emergencies
  • Names or regular job titles of persons or department to be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan

Fire Response Plans

Employees should know the alarm procedure, where to find alarm pull stations and how to sound or activate them, and the location of any fire extinguishers.

Emergency phone numbers should be posted by phones. Employees should respond immediately when the alarm is sounded, whether it is a drill or an actual fire. Personal work areas should be secured, if time permits, by turning off machinery or equipment, securing hazardous materials or locking up confidential documents.

Evacuation routes must be indicated by signs or workplace maps outlining alternate escape routes. These must be posted in visible locations. A plan must include a designated area to meet (a/k/a muster point) for a head count immediately after evacuation.

According to CFR 1910.39, fire response plans should include the following:

  • A list of the major workplace hazards, their proper handling and storage procedures and potential ignition sources, including equipment/systems installed specifically to handle a fire involving them
  • Names/job titles of personnel responsible for maintenance of equipment and fire prevention and control devices installed within specific equipment
  • Names/job titles of personnel responsible for fuel source hazard control
  • A list of systems installed on heat-producing equipment to prevent accidental ignition of combustible material
  • Procedures to control accumulations of flammable and combustible waste materials

Establishing emergency plans and facilitating employee training help prevent fire deaths and injuries in the workplace. Saving lives is the goal for employee emergency and fire prevention plans. The plans only work if people know and follow the procedures.