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February 2013

Emergency plans – does your workplace need them?

The standard definition of an emergency goes something like this: "a sudden unforeseen crisis, usually involving danger, that requires immediate action." Most workplace emergencies fit this definition, but not all of them.

For example, a health-related crisis – such as a flu pandemic – may not happen suddenly or require immediate action but it could become an emergency over days or weeks. Unlike most personal emergencies, workplace emergencies require an immediate, coordinated response from many individuals in an organization who may have little information about the crisis.

It's a good idea to plan for workplace emergencies because the more prepared you are the more likely you – and your co-workers – will respond correctly when you have to deal with one. Does Oregon OSHA require your workplace to prepare an emergency plan? The answer depends on whether "another Oregon OSHA standard" requires you to prepare one. Sound like a Catch-22? Don't worry. Here's what you need to know.

Oregon OSHA has two general-industry rules that cover emergency plans: Emergency action plans (437-002-0042) sets requirements for evacuations and reporting emergencies and Fire prevention plans (437-002-0043) establishes procedures for controlling fire hazards. Whether you need to prepare one (or both) of these plans depends on "other" Oregon OSHA rules. What are the rules? They're in the table on the next page: ... continued

If this table doesn't format well on your screen or device, you can view a PDF here.

Oregon OSHA rules that require emergency plans
Oregon OSHA rule Emergency action plan required? Fire prevention plan required?
Portable fire extinguishers - 437-002-0187 [Division 2, Subdivision L]. If you require all your employees to evacuate during a fire and portable fire extinguishers are not accessible. Yes Yes
Portable fire extinguishers - 437-002-0187 [Division 2, Subdivision L]. If you require all your employees to evacuate during a fire and portable fire extinguishers are accessible but not intended for their use. Yes Yes
Portable fire extinguishers - 437-002-0187 [Division 2, Subdivision L]. If only designated employees can use portable fire extinguishers. Yes  
Fixed extinguishing systems - 1910.160 [Division 2, Subdivision L]. Workplaces that have areas protected by total flooding systems where gaseous agent concentrations exceed maximum safe levels. See 1910.162, [Division 2, Subdivision L] Fixed Extinguishing Systems Yes  
Fire detection systems - 1910.164 [Division 2, Subdivision L]. When it-s necessary to delay fire detector alarms for more than 30 seconds to protect employees. Yes  
Process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals - 1910.119 [Division 2, Subdivision H]. Yes  
Hazardous waste operations and emergency response - 1910.120 [Division 2, Subdivision H]. If you require employees to evacuate and do not permit them to assist in handling the emergency. Yes  
Grain handling facilities - 1910.272 [Division 2, Subdivision R] Yes  
Methylenedianiline - 1910.1050 [Division 2, Subdivision Z]. Workplaces where employees may be exposed to methylenedianiline. Yes  
1,3-butadiene - 1910.1051 [Division 2, Subdivision Z]. Workplaces where employees may be exposed to 1,3-butadiene. Yes  
The following rules do not require emergency action plans or fire prevention plans, but do require written plans for emergencies. The written plans are unique to each rule.
Vinyl chloride - 1910.1017 [Division 2, Subdivision Z]    
Cadmium - 1910.1027 [Division 2, Subdivision Z]    
1,2-dibromo-3-chloropane - 1910.1044 [Division 2, Subdivision Z]    
Acrylonitrile - 1910.1045 [Division 2, Subdivision Z]    
Ethylene oxide - 1910.1047 [Division 2, Subdivision Z]    

If your workplace has more than 10 employees, your emergency action plan and fire prevention plan must be in writing. If your workplace has 10 or fewer employees, you don't need written plans but the employees must know what procedures to follow during an emergency. ... continued

If your workplace has more than 10 employees, your emergency action plan and fire prevention plan must be in writing. If your workplace has 10 or fewer employees, you don't need written plans but the employees must know what procedures to follow during an emergency.

Requirements for emergency action plans – 432-002-0042

Oregon OSHA's requirements for emergency action plans include:

Requirements for fire prevention plans – 432-002-0043

Oregon OSHA's requirements for fire prevention plans include:

You must also tell employees about fire hazards in their work areas and review the plan with them before they begin their jobs for the first time.

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