Workplace fires and explosions kill 200 American workers and injure more than 5,000 a year, at a cost of $2.3 billion. The expanded use of space heaters during the winter season increases the danger of fire. To help keep employees safe, any business that’s required to have fire extinguishers on the premises and needs to evacuate people during a fire or other emergency must have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) that meets specific OSHA standards. Required elements in an EAP include but are not limited to:
- Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments.
- Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate.
- Procedures to account for all employees after an emergency evacuation has been completed.
- Rescue and medical duties for employees who are to perform them.
- Means of reporting fires and other emergencies.
- Names or job titles of persons to contact for further information or explanation of duties under the plan.
Businesses can also implement a workplace Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) that describes the onsite fuel sources (hazardous or other materials) that could trigger or help spread a fire, as well as the building systems, such as fixed fire extinguishing systems and alarms in place to control the ignition or spread of a fire. At a minimum, your FPP should include:
- A list of all major fire hazards, handling and storage procedures for hazardous materials, potential ignition sources, and the type of fire protection equipment needed to control them.
- Procedures to curb accumulations of flammable and combustible waste materials.
- Maintenance of safeguards on heat-producing equipment to prevent the accidental ignition of combustible materials.
- The name or job title of employees responsible for controlling fuel source hazards and maintaining equipment to prevent or control ignition or fires.
Employers required to have an EAP or FPP must provide emergency preparation and response training for employees. Even if you’re not required to prepare such plans, it makes sense to develop and enforce them.