Safety and Health

Responding to a dangerous workplace situation

You have the responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

Workplace emergencies, whether due to workplace hazards or natural disasters, create a variety of dangers for workers in the impacted area. In such situations, worker safety is paramount. Preparing before an incident is vital to ensuring that you and your workers have the necessary equipment, know where to go, and how to stay safe when an emergency occurs. To help, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides resources on a wide variety of emergency preparedness considerations. 


The best way to protect your workers is to “expect the unexpected” and carefully develop an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) to serve as a guide when immediate action is necessary. Drafting an EAP alone is not enough; an EAP will be useful only if its content is up to date and employees are sufficiently educated and trained before an actual evacuation. Almost every business is required to have an EAP, which helps organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. In general, you’re required to have an EAP if your workplace provides or requires fire extinguishers and if anyone will evacuate during an emergency. Specifically, OSHA requires EAPs for the following standards: 29 CFR §§ 1910.66, 1910.119, 1910.160, 1910.164, 1910.272, 1910.1047, 1910.1050, and 1910.1051.  


Additional information, including some key OSHA requirements for emergencies in general industry, construction, and maritime workplaces, can be found at OSHA’s General Business Preparedness for General, Construction, and Maritime Industries webpage.  

Female specialist explaining how to use fire extinguisher on construction site

We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your responsibilities as an employer. Many questions about your safety and health responsibilities may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors:

For additional assistance, please contact:

OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742)

OSHA’s area offices provide advice, education, and assistance to businesses and organizations who request help with occupational safety and health issues. In addition, OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential safety and occupational health advice. No citations or penalties are issued; the employer’s only obligation is to correct identified hazards.


Please note that the mining industry has its own set of safety and health standards, rules, and regulations, which are overseen by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Mining industry employers should contact MSHA at 202-693-9400 or

Need more information?

The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under federal employment laws.