The Safe Shop

From the

Know Where to Go in Emergencies

Emergencies -- accidental, traumatic, force-of-nature -- rarely knock on the door or send an advance email. You can't predict when one will occur at your shop.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards require some firms with more than 10 employees to have a written emergency action plan; smaller companies may communicate their plans orally to their employees.

Top management support and the commitment and involvement of all employees are essential to an effective emergency action plan.

Employers are responsible for preparing and implementing plans to ensure employee safety in the event of fire or other emergencies such as tornadoes, floods or other natural or manmade disasters. The elements of this plan include:

  • Emergency-escape procedures and emergency escape-route assignments;
  • Procedures for employees who remain to operate critical equipment before they evacuate;
  • Procedures to account for all employees after emergency evacuation is complete
  • Rescue and medical duties for employees who perform them;
  • Establishing the preferred means of reporting fires and other emergencies;
  • Names and regular job titles of people employees can contact for further information or explanation of duties under this plan.

So What's the Emergency?

A wide variety of emergencies both man-made and natural may require your workplace to be evacuated. These emergencies include:

  • fires
  • explosions
  • floods
  • earthquakes
  • hurricanes
  • tornadoes
  • toxic-material releases
  • radiological and biological accidents
  • civil disturbances
  • workplace violence.

What Do You Need to Know Beforehand?

  • Be familiar with your work site's emergency evacuation plan.
  • Know the pathway to at least two alternative exits from every room/area at the workplace.
  • Recognize the sound/signaling method of the fire/evacuation alarms.
  • Know who to contact in an emergency and how to contact them.
  • Know how many obstacles there are between your workstation and two of the nearest exits so you can escape in the dark if necessary.
  • Know where the fire/evacuation alarms are located and how to use them.
  • Report damaged or malfunction safety systems and back-up systems.

What Do You Need Do?

  • Unless you are designated to stay behind for emergency shutdown (see below), leave the area quickly but in an orderly manner, following your worksite's emergency evacuation plan.
  • Listen carefully for instructions over the building's public-address system (if there is one).
  • Crawl low, under the smoke to breathe cleaner air if there is a fire. Keep fire doors closed to slow the spread of smoke and fire.
  • Use the stairs from upper levels. Don't get in an elevator.
  • Report to the designated meeting place.
  • If anyone is missing, report their name and last known location to the official in charge.
  • Do not re-enter the building until directed by authorities.

Emergency Shutdown

  • Identify the equipment and processes that must be shut down in stages or over time.
  • Know which employees are to remain behind briefly to operate fire extinguishers or shut down gas and/or electrical systems and other special equipment.
  • After evacuation, report to a designated area.
  • If anyone is missing, report their name and last known location to the official in charge.

Need to Develop an Emergency Plan?

One of the best ways to create and customize an emergency action plan is through OSHA's online checklist, with topics that need addressing and suggestions on good procedures. It's available in a fill-and print HTML form online.

Reminder: Safety is the responsibility of both management and employees!

The information herein is provided by the Natural Stone Institute as a general summary for use in job site toolbox talks and is provided to augment and not substitute for or replace required training under any applicable local, state or federal workplace statute, law or regulation. It is the user’s responsibility to ensure this content is consistent with job site requirements and applicable statutes, laws or regulations prior to use and make any required additions or changes.

For More Information

The Natural Stone Institute


Oberlin, Ohio