Emergency procedures

Workplaces need a plan for emergencies that can have a wider impact. Special procedures are needed for emergencies such as serious injuries, explosion, flood, poisoning, electrocution, fire, release of radioactivity and chemical spills.

Quick and effective action may help to ease the situation and reduce the consequences. However, in emergencies people are more likely to respond reliably if they:

  • are well trained and competent
  • take part in regular and realistic practice
  • have clearly agreed, recorded and rehearsed plans, actions and responsibilities

Write an emergency plan if a major incident at your workplace could involve risks to the public, rescuing employees or
co-ordinating emergency services.

Where you share your workplace with another employer you should consider whether your emergency plans and procedures should be co-ordinated.

Points to include in emergency procedures

  • Consider what might happen and how the alarm will be raised. Don't forget night and shift working, weekends and times when the premises are closed, eg holidays
  • Plan what to do, including how to call the emergency services. Help them by clearly marking your premises from the road. Consider drawing up a simple plan showing the location of hazardous items
  • If you have 25 tonnes or more of dangerous substances, you must notify the fire and rescue service and put up warning signs
  • Decide where to go to reach a place of safety or to get rescue equipment. You must provide suitable forms of emergency lighting
  • You must make sure there are enough emergency exits for everyone to escape quickly, and keep emergency doors and escape routes unobstructed and clearly marked
  • Nominate competent people to take control (a competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety)
  • Decide which other key people you need, such as a nominated incident controller, someone who is able to provide technical and other site-specific information if necessary, or first-aiders
  • Plan essential actions such as emergency plant shutdown, isolation or making processes safe. Clearly identify important items like shut-off valves and electrical isolators etc
  • You must train everyone in emergency procedures. Don't forget the needs of people with disabilities and vulnerable workers
  • Work should not resume after an emergency if a serious danger remains. If you have any doubts ask for assistance from the emergency services

The law

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 cover emergencies.

The Dangerous Substances (Notification and Marking of Sites) Regulations 1990 cover sites where at least 25 tonnes of dangerous substances are held.