September is National Emergency Preparedness Month. There have been many disasters lately that have reminded us of the importance of being prepared. Hurricane Idalia and tropical storm Lee flooded the east coast, while a rare tropical storm, Hilary, plagued southern California in the west. Raging wildfires devastated Lahaina on the island of Maui, Hawaii, a popular tourist resort area. The Maui wildfires are still burning, as are many fires across the U.S. To see the wildfires in your area, follow this link to the U.S. National Forest Service interactive map:
This week we are testing your understanding of what OSHA requires of employers in 29 CFR Part 1910.38, the Emergency Action Plans regulation. Take the quiz. Some of the answers are not in the regulation but are safety expert recommendations. Then spend some time with your coworkers reviewing our discussion topic. We’ll put the answers at the end of the quiz.
1. A requirement of the regulation is to have procedures for reporting fires. If your work area was on fire, the first thing fire safety experts tell us to do is:
A. Call 9-1-1.
B. Tell your supervisor.
C. Yell fire and get everyone out of the area.
D. Grab the nearest extinguisher and put out the fire.
2. During an evacuation, you are required to go to a predetermined assembly area. Someone must make sure everyone has gotten out safely. Who is recommended to account for the evacuees?
A. Supervisors, as they know who is at work that day.
B. A predetermined emergency response team member who has a list of workers.
C. Someone from Human Resources, who has an employee list.
D. The company receptionist, as they know who is at work that day.
E. It could be any of the above if the assignment is part of the evacuation procedures.
3. Earthquakes are not mentioned in the regulation but are an emergency event. During an earthquake, what should you do?
A. Duck under a desk or table, away from things that could fall (other than a doorway), cover your head, and hold in place.
B. Run! Get out before the building collapses.
C. Stand in a doorway, as doorways are solidly built.
D. Just stay where you are, ride it out.
4. Some employees do not work in an office, but work from home, or are out of the workplace servicing customers or doing remote work. After a major event, like a big earthquake or fire, phone lines might be disrupted or overloaded. How can you account for their safety following a major event?
A. You could text them, or they could text a single contact person in the main office.
B. They could post a notice that they were safe to a LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media page.
C. You could require them to come to the office.
D. You could require them to go to a local police office to report that they were safe.
E. All the above.
F. Only A or B are correct.
G. Only C or D are correct.
Discussion Topic: The Emergency Action Plan regulation requires that employers have methods or systems to alert or alarm employees to emergencies, and that employees must be informed of what the alarms sound like and what to do. What are the alarms for your workplace? What do they sound like, and what actions should you take for each alarm, if there are different ones? Who can activate or sound the alarm? (Note: Shouting instructions, like “Fire, get out!” is an approved alarm method in smaller workplaces.)
1. C. Evacuate the area first!
2. E. A predetermined person would take an accounting of who has evacuated.
3. A. Duck, take cover, and hold in place. If you are under a table or something that could move during a quake, hold onto the table legs to maintain your cover.
4. F. Texting or social media posts may be more reliable after a major emergency event. Try to refrain from unnecessarily contacting a police or fire department during a major event if possible (answer D) as they may be over loaded with emergency calls.