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Employee Emergency & Fire Prevention Plans

Quick Tips #108 
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Employee Emergency Plans

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 in 1910.165.

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 operate 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 who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan
Fire Prevention Plans

Employees should know the alarm procedure, where to find alarms and how to sound or activate them. 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 for a head count immediately after evacuation.

According to CFR 1910.39, fire prevention 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.

Commonly Asked Questions
Q.   Why is it important to meet for a head count in the event of an emergency or fire?
A.   It is crucial to have a designated place to meet after the evacuation process. The head count helps to determine if anyone might possibly be trapped in the building. Failing to report to this designated meeting place could endanger the life of someone who re-enters the building in an attempt to find a missing person.
Q.   Why is it important to keep exits clear?
A.   It is important to keep paths, escape routes and aisles clear to ensure everyone can quickly exit the building. Clutter and debris might prohibit an exit door from opening to allow for escape.


(Rev. 6/2014)

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Please Note:
The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This publication is not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and standards specific to your location and business activity, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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