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Emergency Preparedness for Business

Business require special measures to protect their operations, infrastructure, and workers from any potential harmful effects an emergency could cause. Emergencies can be the result of man-made or natural events, some examples may include terrorism, earthquakes, tornadoes, extreme temperatures, fires, hurricanes, and appearance of diseases such as Ebola, among others. Depending on the type of emergency different hazards may present in the emergency locations. These hazards may include chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, ergonomic, and physical hazards among others. Therefore, it is important to establish a plan before the occurrence of these events to be prepared in case an emergency happens. These plans include different stages such as facility protection, in which business owners or managers can take steps to identify potential hazards and make changes to prevent, mitigate or control them, and the creation of planning guidelines of emergency management, covering topics such as evacuation plans, procedures, shelter, fire safety, and disaster kits among others. This webpage provides business access to different resources.

Businesses can take different steps to protect themselves against multiple hazards associated to emergencies. Some of these steps include the design, preparation and implementation of a plan that includes all the procedures, strategies, organizational structures, potential hazards, personal protection equipment, and all the potential actions that can be completed in case there is an emergency. Other important step is to provide training to all workers independently of the activity they do. Different important steps to implement may include the identification of the processes of our businesses from beginning to end to identify potential hazards and early interventions to mitigate or control them. Multiple steps are involved in being prepared for an emergency. The following links provide access to information on how businesses can approach emergency planning, response and recovery.

General emergency management resources

Emergencies have usually negative social and economic impacts. A comprehensive plan for dealing with emergency events should include specific instructions to building occupants, actions to be taken by facility management, and first responder notification procedures. This web site provides an emergency management guide for business and industry, providing a wide and comprehensive set of steps to be prepared. These include establishing a planning team, analyze capabilities and hazards, development and implementation of a plan, gather information regarding training and emergency management, cover topics such as direction and control, communications, life safety, property protection, community outreach, administration and logistics and collecting Information regarding hazard specific information.
Emergency Management for Business and IndustryExternal

The national fire protection association provides a standard on continuity, emergency and crisis management that has been adopted by different entities. This standard establishes a common set of criteria for disaster/emergency management and business continuity programs.
NFPA 1600: Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity ProgramsExternal

Evacuation and shelter resources and tools

This eTool contains information regarding evacuation plans and procedures for emergency response. The objective of this eTool is to help small, low-hazard service or retail businesses implement an emergency action plan. OSHA includes their emergency standards in this eTool to provide the right resources to business to comply. The eTool discuss how to write, implement and evaluate an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) to comply with OSHA’s standards.
OSHA Evacuation Plans and Procedures eToolExternal

This document provides information about planning activities for workplace emergencies and evacuations. This guide covers the elements an emergency action plan should include, which roles and procedures should exists, what assistance does OSHA provide, what are OSHAs requirements during emergencies, what education from OSHA is available for workers, what resources and materials OSHA has available to respond to an emergency and in general which safe and health considerations should be implemented to prevent injuries, diseases and death.
Employee Fire and Life Safety: Developing a Preparedness Plan and Conducting Emergency Evacuation DrillsCdc-pdfExternal

This web page provides links to National Institute for Chemical Studies (NICS) documents and other information related to establishing and implementing sheltering-in-place programs. The document provides an insight on protective actions for the public during hazardous materials emergencies. Case studies of sheltering in place during previous chemical emergencies are available for consultation, as well as, scientific studies of sheltering as a protective action.
Shelter In Place Information Center (National Institute for Chemical Studies)Cdc-pdfExternal

Man caused and natural disasters can cause economic and social damage. Some of this damage is associated to infrastructure and specially buildings and general constructions. Although there are building codes, standards and established practices there are always risks associated to disastrous events. There are steps that businesses can take to protect against and minimize the effects of an emergency by protecting their facilities.  The following website have recommendations to protect different types of facilities in case of terrorism.

Indoor air protection guidance

This NIOSH publication provides recommendations to protect building air environments from a terrorist release of chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants. The guidelines offer preventive measures, recommendations, air-cleaning principles, and economic considerations for building owners and managers.
Guidance for Filtration and Air-Cleaning Systems to Protect Building Environments from Airborne Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Attacks

This NIOSH publication identifies actions and recommendations as well as information on actions, measures and strategies building owners, managers, maintenance personal and general edifications can take to enhance protection from airborne chemical, biological or radiological attacks. Recommendations cover physical security; ventilation and filtration; and maintenance, administration, and training for building owners or managers to quickly implement to enhance occupant protection from an airborne chemical, biological, or radiological attack.
Guidance for Protecting Building Environments from Airborne Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Attacks

Chemical facilities guidance

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) develops regulatory and voluntary programs and resources to support activities across different economic sectors. The DHS offers a variety of standards and programs to protect the safety and health of workers of high-risk chemical facilities. This security initiatives include the chemical facility antiterrorism standards, ammonium nitrate security program, chemical sector security events, chemical sector resources and the Risk-based performance standards. All of these measures focus on chemical facilities and in the establishment of security measures to reduce risks associated with chemicals.
Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism StandardsExternal

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a webpage for natural disasters which provides access to general preparedness and response tips for different types of populations and multiple types of emergencies. It includes risk management plans, emergency planning, laws and regulations, general chemical information, potential hazards, and information regarding EPA’s role during emergencies.
Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention (EPA)External

EPA Provides detailed guidance on how to establish a response program to an emergency. Describing the elements of a local emergency planning committee and how to apply an emergency response program. Information on the National Response System, reporting triggers, community involvement, etc. Supporting recommendations with standards.
Emergency Response Program (EPA) External

The International Chemical Safety Cards offer essential health and safety information on chemicals to promote their safe use. They are intended to be used by workers and employers as a clear communication tool. The information provided in these cards includes identity of the chemical, physical and chemical properties and hazards, fire and explosion hazards, health hazards and how to prevent them, first aid, spillage disposal, storage and packaging, and classification and labelling.
International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO)

The Pocket Guide is a source of general industrial hygiene information that contains data of several hundred chemicals and hazards that can be potentially found in the work environment. Key data provided for each substance includes name (synonyms, trade names), structure, formula, Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Numbers, conversion factors, exposure limits, chemical and physical properties, measurement methods, personal protection, respirator recommendations, symptoms, concentrations that are immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH), and first aid.
NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards

The CDC emergency preparedness and response website provides different materials and information aimed to support the prevention of adverse effects resulting from emergencies. This webpage includes facts and resources about Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Physical, and other emergency situations.  This webpage provides the possibility of learning how to be ready for different types of emergencies, learn more about different kinds of health threats, access resources for emergency response and recovery workers, and access recommendations on how to stay safe and protect yourself during and after an emergency.
Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (CDC)

The disaster handbook covers a wide variety of topics associated to different types of emergencies. This handbook content includes food and water safety during and after emergencies, mental health for children adolescents and adults, cleaning mold after a flood, mosquitos’ protection, cleaning up activities and safety, trees restoration, and advice for farms and agrichemical facilities.
The Disaster Handbook (University of Florida)External

The U.S. National response team (NRT) webpage describes the components of the National Response System, lessons learned from multi-agency federal exercises, national guidance and reports, relevant statutes and regulations, and HAZMAT accident databases. All this information is available for consultation to gather information from previous practices and use it or modify it according to each particular necessity.
US National Response Team (NRT)External

If you believe that someone has been exposed to a biological or chemical agent, or if you believe an intentional biological threat will occur or is occurring, please contact your local health department and/or your local police or other law enforcement agency. The following pages might be a useful resource to request information.

Page last reviewed: November 30, 2018