Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Emergency Action Plans: They Are Usually Not Mandatory, However . . .

Some terrible things occurred during the course of three short days last month. First of all, a couple of troubled young brothers decided to explode two homemade bombs near the finish line at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and critically injuring over 100 others. Then two days later, there was a tremendous explosion at a fertilizer plant located in the small town of West, TX, injuring over 250 people and killing at least 15 people, many of them first responders. And right in the middle of all this, I get the following text message from my youngest daughter:
“ Daddy. The school is on lock down. I’m okay. We have the door blocked. I love you so much.”
While the explosions that occurred in Boston and West were horrific, it was that cryptic text message from my baby girl that really got to me. I felt so helpless, especially since I was stranded in the airport in Atlanta GA because the airline (which will remAAin unnAAmed) that I was supposed to be flying home on that afternoon was grounded due to a massive computer outage. But . . .
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  1. I realize that under 29 CFR 1910.38 the first line says "non-mandatory guidelines" however, the Emergency Action Plan was one of the first plans that I actually wrote. It was the first plan that I had to review the information on also because of the shooting at Fort Hood in 2009.
    I can not imagine being without an Emergency Action Plan. The map of the building and Emergency Action Plan changed for each building that I have been asked to wrote a plan for since that first plan. I believe OSHA should change this to a mandatory plan. - Sybil

    1. Read Appendix E again. The Appendix is the "non-mandatory" part of Subpart E, not 1910.38

    2. Anonymous. Actually, YOU need to re-read the standard and the CPL.

      Paragraph 1910.38(a)(Application) states that an employer must have an emergency action plan whenever an OSHA standard in this part (1910)requires one. The requirements in this section apply to each such emergency action plan.

      And if you read the directive it says in Part VIII (Background) that these are the only standards (seven of them) that require an emergency action plan. .

      1. Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals - 1910.119
      2. Fixed Extinguishing Systems, General - 1910.160
      3. Fire Detection Systems, 1910.164
      4. Grain Handling - 1910.272
      5. Ethylene Oxide - 1910.1047
      6. Methylenedianiline - 1910.1050
      7. 1,3-Butadiene - 1910.1051

      The non-mandatory Appendix to the CPL you reference is an example of a plan you could use IF YOU ARE REQUIRED BY ONE OF THE LISTED STANDARDS that require such a plan. If you are not covered by one of these seven standards, then you are not required to develop the emergency action plan. However, it (the sample plan) could certainly be used as an example by anyone wanting to go above and beyond as well.

    3. Curtis,

      The intent of my comment above was to point out the following: the phrase "non-mandatory" does not appear in 1910.38.

  2. Firefighters are the worst bunch when it comes to ill-conceived plans. This white paper somewhat explains it.

    Ammonium nitrate, oil (without foam), sodium, calcium carbide and even lithium ion batteries in hybrid cars are all accidents looking for a place to happen with water contact. Calcium carbide releases acetylene gas, the ammonium nitrate and lithium ion batteries release hydrogen with heat and water. Hitting oil directly without foam only spreads the problem. Careful planning can be used to keep a container or surrounding vessels cool. Standing inside buildings under roof top AC units has resulted in firefighter deaths when the roof collapsed under the weight of the units. These units can be located on Google maps and coordinates uploaded to GPS and cell phones as places to avoid while inside.

    While hindsight is 20-20, walking the ares like the sidewalk on Boston Marathon with a bomb-sniffing dog may have located them before it was too late. You would do this with a guy in a flowered tee shirt, white cane and sun glasses -like a blind person as opposed to advertising your intent with a camouflaged uniform, helmet and M-16, allowing someone to come right behind you later.

    That's one of the "planning" problems with apprehending a terrorist on the move, they know who and where you are and your every move, you don't know who and where they are. You're the one in the black suit and sunglasses talking into his wrist watch or running up and down an area with camo or similar uniform, boots and weapons. My idea of camo is something that blend in with everyone else. But - that's just me. Mike

  3. I read that the Boston Police asked everyone to stop tweeting their movements, never mind the cell phones videos and TV crews. Law enforcement has not updated their procedures to deal with the new media streams. I guess we should go back to the old coded messages, before plain text came about.

  4. Thank you very much for the review. It helps to know we are doing it right with our consultation customers here in Maryland.

    Richard Heiser -
    MOSH Consultation

  5. Curtis,

    Your news updates help tremendously with OSHA compliance interpretations and common misunderstood standards. The icing to this wonderful resource is linking other standards that interface with OSHA regs, i.e. NFPA, ANSI as hyper links so we get the full picture of what is required for compliance.

    Keep up the good blogging!
    Lori S

  6. While I agree with what has been said here, if you do not have an emergency plan and a catastrophic event happens, OSHA will nail you under the General Duty Clause. This was confirmed to me by OSHA consult inspectors with an incident that occurred in Albuquerque.

    When I took over as the Safety Manager at my present employment, fire extinguisher were already installed but no emergency action plan in place. So I developed plans and for the past year and a half we have been doing a lot of training. You will only do what you have practiced. If you practice nothing you will do nothing. If you have practiced a response, you will act. Keep writing/working those plans.

  7. Following the 2001 Attacks, focus was placed on BCP/COOP development - this calls for an all hazard approach and part of the approach includes an emergency action plan...It may not be required for most employers; however, it is a great item to have in your overall EM/Safety program. Think Best Practice!

  8. The General Duty Clause would not be applicable when a specific standard (29CFR1910.38) specifically exempts the industries not mentioned. The OSHA consult inspectors were wrong and would lose in court. Read the section of the FOM regarding General Duty Clause citations. Most people think they (OSHA) can use this whenever they want.
    Sounds like a good topic for the next blog.
    Chuck Northam, Safety Resources, LLC


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