Emergency preparedness is essential for all of your employees â€“ but especially for those with disabilities.
Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) help orchestrate employer and employee actions, including evacuations, during a workplace emergency. An employer must have an EAP for its facilities whenever a specific OSHA standard mandates one for example, at any facility that requires workers to evacuate after a fire alarm. Employers at facilities with fixed extinguishing systems and fire detection systems must also develop an EAP. What’s more, OSHA strongly recommends that all businesses have an EAP.
Your EAP must include these elements:
- A means of reporting fires and other emergencies
- Evacuation procedures and emergency exit route assignments
- Procedures for employees who remain to operate critical facility operations before they evacuate
- A method of accounting for all employees after the completion of emergency evacuation
- Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them
- Names and/or job titles of people to contact for further information or explanation of duties under the plan
Employers covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) who are required or who choose to adopt EAPs must also include procedures for evacuating people with disabilities. Even employers without EAPs should address emergency evacuation for employees with disabilities as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services offers these disaster preparedness tips for disabled individuals:
- Set up a disabled worker’s job area so that they can quickly get under a sturdy desk, table, or other safe place for protection; this will be essential during an earthquake or explosion.
- Identify doorways behind which the worker can take cover.
- When practicing emergency exit drills, include any special assistance a disabled worker might require; at least two other workers should be familiar with the disabled worker’s special needs, including how to operate any equipment the person uses and the location of emergency supplies.
- Have workers with disabilities keep a list of medications, allergies, special equipment, names and numbers of doctors, pharmacists, and family members with them at all times.
- Make sure that these workers keep extra medication with their emergency supplies.
- Require mobility-impaired workers to have walking aids close by at all times.