Norton Seal Fire extinguisher in hallway as part of an emergency response plan.

Loss Control & Risk Management

Developing an Emergency Response Plan for Your Business

Planning is essential for successfully minimizing adverse effects of an emergency or disaster on a business and its employees. Emergencies and disasters can take many forms, including physical perils, work accidents, or deliberate acts of terrorism. This handout provides some key considerations when developing a planned response to emergencies in the workplace.

  • Select/appoint an individual to be responsible for coordinating the preplanning efforts.
  • Identify the emergencies that are likely to threaten the workplace and its employees. Some examples are terrorism; bomb threats; natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods; fires; workplace violence; or hazardous chemical spills.
  • Plans can be described as Action Guides, Response Plans, or Emergency Management Plans.

Action Guides. These usually in a checklist format listing the steps that need to be accomplished when an event happens. The Guide generally outlines those company personnel and outside agencies to be called, what information is to be collected, and what actions are to be taken. These guides are generally part of a more comprehensive emergency management plan.

Response Plans. A Response Plan, also called contingency plans, describe in more detail the steps listed in the Action Guides. Response Plans will generally provide more information on the actions that must be implemented to limit damage from an emergency and do not deal with pre-emergency or recovery planning.

Emergency Management Plans. These are comprehensive documents that include the Action Guides and Response Plans. It describes the methods used to prevent emergencies, actions when event happens, activities needed to keep the organization operational, and steps to bring company back to full operation.

  • Decide if ONE plan, or separate plans for each exposure, should be developed.
  • Build a list that includes: organization names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, along with points of contact names of emergency response resources. Examples of emergency resources include police, fire, alarm service, hospitals, insurance broker, poison center, public health department, telephone company, utilities, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and insurance carriers (include policy numbers along with contact numbers).
  • Draft the plan(s), covering prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery issues.
  • Establish target dates for completing each section of the plan as well as a date for completing the entire plan.
  • Develop a list of the equipment that may be needed, such as first aid kits, tarps (e.g., to protect equipment from water damage), flashlights, batteries, etc.
  • Consider these special issues while building the plan, such as having outside personnel on site, remote location, or operations or process that require an employee to remain behind, during an evacuation, to shut down the process, such as a chemical reaction, or a boiler.
  • Include methods that can be used to test the plan and update it as needed. The more frequently the plan is exercised, the better prepared personnel will be, the more easily potential problems will be identified, and the sooner corrections will be made before any real emergency occurs.

Head to our loss control and risk management page to learn more ways to protect your business.

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Related Topics: Protecting Your Business , Employee Safety