When does OSHA require an emergency response?

There are several factors that must be considered before determining how to proceed during a possible emergency situation. Those elements include:

  • The nature of the emergency
  • The degree of the emergency
  • The size of the organization
  • The capability of the organization in an emergency
  • The ability to request outside aid
  • The physical layout of the building

Overall, every organization is required by OSHA to plan for these unforeseen events, which may seem like a conundrum as these situations occur at any time and can be anything, therefore making planning for emergencies difficult. Unfortunately, having some amount of preparation for all possible threats is all a company can do to try to save equipment, product, property, and most importantly, it’s employees.

Many are familiar with term Emergency Action Plans, or EAP. The goal of this type of preparedness plan and emergency response objective is to get all employees out safely as quickly as possible. This plan will lay out emergency exit routes, provide training for employees, and have all the appropriate detection and alarm systems required for maximum safety.

Depending on the layout of the building, the equipment being used, and the availability of outside help regarding emergency response personnel, an EAP will have varying degrees of preparedness in areas such as first aid, fighting the threat as needed before emergency personnel arrive, etc.

Regardless, an emergency action plan is not optional. OSHA does require every facility to have them in writing and filed away for reference unless the company has less than ten employees, in which case the EAP can be recited orally. Having the ability to adequately prepare for any emergency provides employers with some sense of security in protecting their business than if an EAP was forgone in the planning process.


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