Build Emergency Procedures

An emergency action plan (EAP) or emergency procedures plan is a written or oral plan that defines actions the employer and employees of a business should take during an emergency. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all businesses to have an EAP, but organizations with more than 10 employees must create a written plan.


1. Learn the federal requirements. OSHA requires that each EAP contain at a minimum:

* the method for reporting fires and other emergencies,

* evacuation procedures with emergency routes,

* operations procedures for employees who remain to conduct critical operations before evacuating,

* procedures to account for all employees post-evacuation

* identification of employees who will conduct rescue and medical duties

* procedures for conducting rescue and medical duties, and

* the names or job titles of employees who can provide additional information or explanation of the plan. The OSHA Web site contains further information, and the agency also provides printed educational documents.

2. Learn the state requirements. Each state has different requirements. Check with your local state OSHA office to learn additional topics to cover, if any.

3. Gather the necessary information. Set aside a block of time to assemble the information listed under “Things You’ll Need.” This can take less than an hour to a day, depending on the size of your organization and the information included in your current employee files.

4. Use the OSHA EAP Expert system. OSHA provides a free automated system that helps small and medium businesses create an EAP. The online system prompts you to enter the necessary information and produce an appropriate plan in a standardized format. The EAP Expert System was not designed for larger businesses or those businesses with unique potential emergencies. OSHA recommends organizations falling into these categories conduct plan design with their special considerations in mind. A consult might be required.

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