In the midst of this season’s crazy hurricane season, it is important to remember that employers have a responsibility for hurricane preparedness. This is especially important for us as Hurricane Harvey was not that long ago, and it changed Southeast Texas forever.
In sum, every employer is responsibility for their employee’s safety and health. This is through ensuring the workplace is safe and healthful. This includes protecting their employees from anticipated hazards, like hurricanes.
Emergency Action Plans
For some businesses, these general requirements are statutory. Specifically, all companies that have employees that will be involved in the state’s hurricane response that relate to hazardous substances are required to have Emergency Action Plans. Section 1910.38 of Chapter 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, outlines the requirements of these EAPs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency even provides an Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool at Ready.gov.
The first step is having an evacuation plan and procedures, including exits to use and routes to take, like specifying which highways to take company inventory and vehicles on and where to take them. This should not be create in anticipation of a specific hurricane. Instead, it should be created well before hurricane season hits.
These plans should first go over when to evacuate and who is responsible for making that call, including everyone’s emergency functions and which employees are responsible for them. Do not forget to draft procedures for accounting for customers, visitors and personnel.
Now that the company has the plan, they must get the equipment needed for that plan. This includes gathering emergency supply kits, also known as Disaster Supply Kits. Ready.gov also has information sheets for these as well.
Employers who fail to abide by these basic requirements, even if not required to by regulations, could face fines by OSHA. Additionally, if Beaumont employees are injured because of their lack of planning, they may be able to file a lawsuit against their employers for their negligence.