The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that in 2017, there were 59,985 weather events that resulted in 592 deaths and 4,270 injuries. In the wake of Hurricane Florence and other natural disasters recently hitting some parts of the country including South Carolina, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has called attention to its Emergency Preparedness and Response plan.
Emergency Action Plan
Businesses may be struck by hurricanes or other emergencies at any time; therefore, it is crucial to develop a plan of action in advance. OSHA recommends that employers develop an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) to inform employers and employees of what to do during workplace emergencies so that fewer injuries occur.
Some businesses are required to have an EAP that complies with the applicable OSHA standards for the industry. However, it is advisable that all businesses have a written, comprehensive EAP that includes the names and contact information of individuals whom employees can contact for more information regarding the plan as well as procedures for:
- Reporting and alerting workers to emergencies
- Emergency evacuation and exit route assignments
- Determining which workers will remain up until evacuation
- Accounting for all workers after an evacuation
- Employees performing rescue or medical duties
- An employee alarm system
OSHA also recommends that employers undertake additional emergency preparedness actions, including:
- Posting emergency numbers for emergency responders in the workplace
- Inviting emergency responders and volunteer firefighters to tour the facility
- Arranging training drills for emergency responders and employees
- Designating a facility liaison to communicate with emergency responders
- Designating emergency contact people who know of the facility’s hazards and processes
- Assigning certain staff the responsibility of keeping inventory and maintaining emergency equipment and supplies
- Describing the designated alarm systems in the EAP
- Identifying an alternative facility for communications in case the primary facility becomes inaccessible
- Storing duplicates of important documents such as legal documents, emergency contact lists and accounting records in a secure location
Employers should consider choosing an employee to lead the EAP. The EAP coordinator should be knowledgeable about the plan and comfortable making decisions during emergencies. It may also be beneficial to designate one evacuation warden for every 20 employees to help move them from danger to safety. Evacuation wardens should be knowledgeable about emergency evacuation procedures and escape routes and should be made aware of special needs workers requiring additional assistance.
All workers should be trained on the types of emergencies that may occur and the corresponding recommended courses of action. Topics for worker training include:
- Elements, procedures and routes included in the EAP
- Special workplace hazards
- Individual roles and responsibilities
- Location and proper use of emergency equipment and supplies
- First aid procedures
- Protection against bloodborne pathogens and airborne contaminants
- Emergency contact information
- Practice drills
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Represent Workers Injured in Natural Disasters at Work
If you were injured while you were at work, contact a skilled Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. We can help you recover the compensation you deserve and ensure that your rights are protected. Contact us online or call 866-881-8623 to arrange a free consultation.
We are proud to serve injured workers across South Carolina, including those in the communities of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.