Emergency Action and Fire Prevention Plans

Quick Tips #108 
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Emergency Action Plans

Mandatory elements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) emergency action and fire prevention plans are found in 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.38 and 1910.39, respectively. Having a detailed and comprehensive emergency action and fire prevention plan that is properly communicated to all members of the organization, will save lives and minimize property damage.

Written employee emergency action and fire prevention plans must be maintained by the employer in the workplace for organizations with more than ten employees. Organizations with ten or fewer employees may communicate the plans verbally. Employees must have access to these plans and must receive training related to emergency procedures. New employees must be informed of these plans during their orientation process. Current employees must receive updates on plan revisions as they occur. A new employee must be trained upon their initial assignment or when the employee responsibilities change under the plan.

Emergency action and fire prevention plans may vary to comply with specific company operations, but must follow the guidelines set by OSHA.

Emergency Action Plans

At a minimum, the emergency action plan (EAP) must include procedures for reporting a fire or other emergencies and procedures for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments. All employees must be familiar with the evacuation signal, whether it’s communicated verbally or by bells, whistles or sirens. The alarm system must comply with the scope, application, general requirements, installation and restoration, maintenance, testing and manual operation as stated in 29 CFR1910.165.

29 CFR 1910.38(a) states “An employer must have an (EAP) whenever an OSHA standard in this part (1910) requires one.” There are several standards that contain requirements for an EAP:

  • 1910.119 Process Safety Management (PSM) of Highly Hazardous Chemicals
  • 1910.120 Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER)
  • 1910.157 Portable Fire Suppression Equipment
  • 1910.160 Fixed Extinguishing Systems, General
  • 1910.164 Fire Detection Systems
  • 1910.272 Grain Handling Facilities
  • 1910.1047 Ethylene Oxide (EtO)
  • 1910.1050 Methylenedianiline (MDA)
  • 1910.1051 1,3-Butadiene

According to 29 CFR 1910.38 EAPs must include the following at a minimum:

  • Emergency evacuation procedures and exit route assignments.
  • Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plan operations before they evacuate.
  • Procedures to account for all employees, contractors and guests 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 job titles of persons or department that can be contacted for additional information or further explanation of duties under the emergency evacuation plan.
Fire Prevention Plans

Employees must know the alarm procedure, where to find alarms and how to sound or activate them. Emergency phone numbers must be posted by phones. Employees must respond immediately when the alarm is sounded, whether it is a drill or an actual fire. Personal work areas must 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 fire prevention plan must include a designated area to meet for a head count immediately after evacuation.

According to 29 CFR 1910.39, fire prevention plans must 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.
  • Procedures to control accumulations of flammable and combustible waste materials.
  • 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.

Establishing emergency action and fire prevention plans and facilitating employee training helps prevent injuries and deaths in the workplace. Saving lives is the main goal for emergency action and fire prevention plans. Just because an organization has an EAP and Fire Prevention Plan, doesn’t mean they are prepared for an emergency. The plans only work if employees know and follow the emergency procedures. For additional information on OSHA’s means of egress requirements please see QuickTip #268.

Commonly Asked Questions
Q. Where can I receive help to determine if my organization requires an Emergency Action Plan?
A: OSHA has an electronic resource called Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool on The eTool has information regarding EAPs and also an Expert System that will walk you through a series of questions to determine if your organization is required to have an EAP.
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.

OSHA Emergency Action Plans
OSHA Fire Prevention Plans
OSHA Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool

(Rev. 4/2017)

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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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