Developing an Emergency Action Plan


Are you aware that an emergency action plan is required by the United States Department of Labor for all businesses?

U.S. Department of Labor – Occupational Safety & Health Administration standards 29 CFR 1910.38 requires an emergency action plan be in writing, kept in the workplace and available to all employees for review.

For smaller organizations, an emergency action plan is still required but the plan doesn’t need to be written and may be communicated verbally.
The purpose of an emergency action plan is to organize actions during a workplace emergency. A well-developed emergency plan and proper employee training may result in fewer employee and customer injuries and also less structural damage to the business.

A poorly designed plan — or worse, no plan at all — could likely lead to disorganization and confusion during the emergency, which may lead to injuries and higher losses.

OSHA states at a minimum, the plan must include but is not limited to the following elements:
1. Means of reporting emergencies.
2. Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route.
3. Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical operations before they evacuate.
4. Procedures to account for all employees after an emergency evacuation has been completed .
5. Names of persons who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the emergency plan.
Your plan should be constructed with the thoughts of employee and customer safety and how to reduce losses to your business.

The following three sections should be included in your plan:
1.Emergency Preparedness
2. Emergency Response
3. Disaster Recovery
Each business should have emergency supplies ready. These supplies should be stored in the manager’s office or a back area on a shelf off the ground.

Items for the Bag

The following are some but not all items that should be included in your emergency bag:
• Battery-Operated Flashlight
• Battery-Operated Radio
• Extra batteries sized to fit the flashlight and radio
• A Safety Whistle
• First Aid Kit
• Evacuation Diagram of Building Posted in the Manager’s Office
There are many different kinds of emergencies. Some strike without warning and some give us ample time to prepare.

Hurricane Season

You will need to develop a specific emergency action plan for all types of emergencies.
The emergencies that are most likely to impact your business are:
• Power Outages
• Flood
• Fire
• Tornado
• Hurricane
• Winter Storm
• Civil Disturbance

Since we are now in hurricane season in the United States, let’s review what actions should be included in your hurricane emergency plan section.
Hurricanes generally provide some warning before striking. The store owner/manager should monitor the hurricane path via the news and also call local authorities for updates.

Your business should start minimizing the possible exposure of all merchandise to water and make sure all electrical devices are unplugged.
All electrical devices such as TVs, DVRs, small electronics, etc, should be moved to an area that would not be affected by any resulting water.
You should bring inside all merchandise that is being displayed outdoors.

If your business does not have a roll down door, the owner/manager will need to make a decision on whether to board up or tape the store’s glass front. This decision should be made well in advance of the hurricane to allow you to purchase the necessary supplies at the local hardware store to undertake either task.

All component terminals should be covered with a plastic bag to reduce water damage. All computer systems on the floor should be moved to the top of the counter before leaving.

If the store is closing, the manager should try and make a bank deposit of excessive funds if at all possible and check the alarm back-up system.

Use Your Safe

Important: If the store is to be closed due to any emergency situation, the safe should be filled with as many company assets as possible, i.e.: cash, jewelry, small general merchandise loans or inventory, before leaving.

Use your safe as your “lifeboat” during an emergency. Safes are designed to withstand long periods of attacks from thieves and most will not be able to get into a safe no matter how long they attack it.

So why is it so important to have a well-developed emergency action plan?

According to studies conducted by the Gartner Group in recent years, 60 percent of businesses are under-prepared for disasters and emergencies and 40 percent of companies that experience a disaster go out of business within five years.

Many large and small businesses don’t realize the need to prepare their store and employees for a disaster/emergency event.

Without a well-defined emergency plan your company will likely struggle or fail to remain in business after an emergency.

Be safe and be profitable.


Tony Gallo is the senior director of Sapphire Protection ( with more than 30 years in the loss prevention, audit, safety, and risk/emergency management fields. For 17 years, Tony was the director of loss prevention and safety for EZCorp, which has more than 1,300 pawnshops and financial loan service locations. Tony is a licensed security consultant and has a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from New Jersey City University. He is a member of the American Society for Industrial Security, Robbery Investigators of Texas and the Loss Prevention Foundation. Contact Tony at and follow him on Twitter at @SapphireProtect.

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