Changes to the Emergency Action Plan

One of the oldest OSHA and Cal/OSHA safety standard is the requirement for employers to have an Emergency Action Plan or EAP (Cal/OSHA Section 3220).  The requirement is quite simple in that every employer must develop a plan for foreseeable emergencies, e.g., fire, earthquake, power outage, etc. Although the regulation does not specifically state that the plan must be in writing, Cal/OSHA in their Document Request Form (Form 1AY) can request the plan indicating the expectation is that it be in writing.  We always suggest to our clients to have the EAP in writing.

The current standard simply states that the EAP must address:

  • Emergency escape procedures and emergency escape route assignments
  • Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical equipment before they evacuate
  • Procedures to account for all employees following an evacuation
  • Procedures for reporting fires and other emergencies, e.g., medical
  • Rescue and medical duties for those employees who perform them
  • Names and job titles of persons to contact for more information

Due to a change federal OSHA made back in 2002 to the EAP, Cal/OSHA has recently proposed changes to its requirements to be consistent with federal OSHA.  The change primarily deals with the term “rescue and medical personnel” since it is quite possible that an employee might perform a single function, but not both.  Also noteworthy, is that the standard does not require employers to specify the types of foreseeable emergencies, but only the procedures for evacuations.

The Cal/OSHA Standards Board heard the changes at the February meeting and will likely adopt the changes at their April meeting, which as indicated above are quite subtle, but stating that employers must have as part of their EPA  “procedures for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments.” We believe that an effective EAP is one that clearly identifies procedures based on the type of emergency and therefore we’re in favor of this change.

Cal/OSHA also changed the requirement for rescue and medical duties to procedures for “employees performing rescue OR medical duties” acknowledging that employees may not perform both functions. If you have an EAP that is not written, we strongly recommend you have one in writing and amend your plan to be consistent with the new EAP requirements. Call us if you need assistance.