What's the Difference Between an Emergency and a Disaster? Is Your Business Prepared?
 Oct. 19, 2011

What’s the difference between an Emergency and a Disaster? If you can expect expedient professional response after calling 911, then you have an emergency. If you cannot rely on fire, police or EMT responders due to an area-wide crisis, you have a disaster. Your company should be prepared for both.

As a California manufacturer, you should have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) which addresses any potential natural or manmade emergency. Your plan should include instructions for crisis involving fire, high winds, flash floods, power outages, earthquakes and bomb threats / workplace violence. In addition, you should address industry-specific workplace emergencies such as heat illness or chemical spills. The prudent employer should have an action plan to effectively respond to any/all foreseeable emergencies.Cal/OSHA has placed a new emphasis on assuring employers have an effective emergency preparedness plan. Failure to have a written, effectively implemented emergency action plan can cost lives, your business reputation and can result in significant Cal/OSHA fines.

The Most Common & Costly Cal/OSHA Emergency Action Plan Citations in 2009 and 2010

  • Plan is not in writing
  • Plan does not have required elements
  • Designated employees have not been trained to assist in evacuation
  • Employer has not reviewed the plan with employees

Make sure your program meets Ca/OSHA’s Emergency Action Plan Requirements (General Industry Safety Orders 3220) by asking the following questions?

  • Are emergency escape routes posted and reviewed with employees?
  • Has an assembly area been designated?
  • Are specific employees trained to remain and operate critical functions before they evacuate?
  • Are procedures in place to account for all employees after evacuation?
  • Are specific employees trained in rescue and medical duties?
  • Is an alarm system in place?
  • Are evacuation instructions detailed for various emergency circumstances?
  • Have sufficient employees been designated and trained to assist in evacuation?
  • Have employees been advised of their responsibilities when the plan is developed, when responsibilities change and whenever the plan is changed?
  • Is a written plan kept at the workplace and available for employees to review? Employers with fewer than 10 employees can communicate the EAP orally and need not keep a written plan.

You can’t plan for an emergency or disaster at the time of occurrence. Don’t wait. Develop or analyze your Emergency Action Plan (EAP) today! Train employees and practice drills regularly.

Protect your most vital resources.

by Cindy Ramos
CompWest Insurance Company


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