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Accinctus - What is an EAP and Does Your Business Need One?

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Monday, 13 January 2014 16:53

What is an EAP and Does Your Business Need One? Featured

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Are you a business owner, manager, CEO, president, safety manager, or someone in authority in your company?  If so, you should know the answer to the two questions in the title – what is an EAP and do you need one?  The short answer is an EAP is an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and the answer is YES, you need one.  Now let me ask one more question – does your company have an EAP?  Let’s get back to that question in a moment.

An Emergency Action Plan is a written document REQUIRED by OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.38 that defines your employees’ actions during an emergency.  An EAP is direction for your employees, it is not a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) or Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan to recovery your business or IT operations.  The standard has minimum elements you must address including emergency reporting procedures, evacuation processes, employee accountability and also other recommended elements.  From my experience in developing EAPs for different organizations and training their personnel on those procedures, I have a list of additional topics to address that will increase the value of your EAP rather than just meeting the minimums. 

 

If you have less than 10 employees the OSHA standard allows this to be communicated to them orally; otherwise it must be in writing and available to employees in the workplace.  The question of “who needs one” really boils down to do you have employees you need to keep safe.  Thus, I know almost every business out there needs one. 

There are many reasons why your company needs an EAP, but I’ll cover three.

      1. Fulfill the standards - Compliance

      2. To protect your company - Liability

      3. To protect your employees - Reality

First, as I’ve already mentioned, it’s required by OSHA standard.  Second, having an EAP protects your company from a liability standpoint.  If a disaster or emergency occurs that results in employee injuries, having an EAP and training your employees on those procedures strengthens your case of completing your due diligence to maintain a safe workplace when you have to address your liability risks.  Lastly, and what I consider most important (as I hope other business leaders do) is that you are doing your best to protect your staff.  In the process of developing an EAP you will analyze and document procedures that protect your greatest asset – your employees. 

So you need one – but how do you accomplish this task?  You have three options.  First, you can try to decipher the OSHA standards and information and develop your own EAP in house.  If you have a business continuity professional or safety manager they will be the most familiar with these requirements.  Although if you have these professionals within your company, you likely already have an EAP.  Secondly, there are online templates you can pay for and use to develop an EAP on your own.  Your third option, especially if you do not have related skills within your company, is to look for outside help from a business continuity professional. 

My perspective is that an EAP should include all the likely threats and define emergency procedures for more than just evacuations.  It should fit both your business requirements and your company culture; I personally do not think a “one size fits all” approach works well for most companies.  An EAP for a small medical office with 18 employees should be very different from an EAP for a 100 person IT services company or a 1200 person manufacturing plant.  To be of long term value your EAP should address more than just the minimum requirements and ideally integrate into your company safety, continuity, or risk management programs. 

Whatever method you decide on, you do need an EAP.  So I will revisit the question from above - “Does your company have an EAP?”

If you don’t have an EAP, or if you have one but it is collecting dust on a shelf and you’d like to improve it, or if you would like more information please contact me.  I would be glad to explain my perspective and process to develop an Emergency Action Plan for your company that does more than just meet the minimum requirements. 

 

As always – Be Aware, Be Prepared, Be Safe.

 


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