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 An emergency action plan helps ensure safety and well-being within a workplace or community space during emergencies. How can you create and maintain one of your own? 


Our interconnected and disrupted global landscape – rife with political, economic, and climate turmoil – is forcing businesses everywhere to prepare for various emergencies that could impact their security and their bottom lines.

Enter emergency action plans (EAPs): an official road map designed for businesses to navigate and mitigate the impact of unexpected, harmful incidents. From the threat of natural disasters to workplace violence, an EAP provides a structured and responsive framework, offering clear steps and procedures to ensure a swift, organized response.

For business owners, HR professionals, and duty of care providers, implementing an effective emergency action plan goes beyond regulatory compliance: it's a cornerstone of responsible risk management. In the workplace, an EAP not only safeguards the well-being of your employees but also contributes significantly to the overall resilience and continuity of your business operations.

Creating and maintaining an EAP requires a holistic, ongoing process that stakeholders across the business must contribute time and resources to, in order to respond to the next threat on the horizon.


An emergency action plan is a comprehensive set of guidelines and procedures designed to ensure safety and well-being within a workplace or community space during emergencies. It is a detailed yet concise document that provides clear instructions and protocols for emergency scenarios.

The responsibility for putting together an EAP typically falls to a designated Emergency Response Team or Safety Committee within an organization, and/or in tandem with a third-party security provider. This team is often comprised of individuals with specific roles and responsibilities in emergency situations. The process of creating an EAP involves a thorough risk assessment, identifying potential emergencies that might befall the business’s people or assets and establishing procedures to address each type of emergency.

The process of creating an EAP involves a thorough risk assessment, identifying potential emergencies that might befall the business’s people or assets and establishing procedures to address each type of emergency.

EAPs cover a range of scenarios, including fires, natural disasters, medical emergencies, and terrorism incidents. But you can’t take an EAP off the shelf: An effective plan is tailored to your business and the specific crises it may face. It often includes details on your emergency exits, assembly points, communication plans, and the assignment of specific roles to employees or designated emergency responders. Your EAP must be clear, accessible, and regularly reviewed and practiced: Global Guardian recommends running your plan through regular tabletop exercises, where all key stakeholders and vendors are brought in to mock exercise the plan, ensure its effectiveness, and identify gaps in procedure.

Once developed, the EAP is typically distributed to all employees. Global Guardian’s position is that the communication of a plan to employees is as important as the plan itself: It may be included in employee handbooks, discussed during orientation sessions, and worked into employee training. In addition to a physical presence within the workplace, organizations often store electronic copies of their EAP for easy access and distribution. But your EAP is a living document that requires periodic review and updates to account for changes in personnel, facility layout, or any new potential risks. By integrating an EAP into the fabric of the organization, you can proactively manage risks and prioritize the safety of workers.


emergency action plan graphic

In constructing an effective EAP, various components work in tandem to ensure a comprehensive and organized response to emergencies.

What does an EAP include? Typically, the following information and protocols:


Central to any robust EAP is a well-defined set of emergency evacuation procedures. This component outlines the steps individuals should take to exit an office building or a specific area safely during a crisis. It includes evacuation routes, assembly points, and specific actions to be taken to minimize risks during the evacuation process.


An EAP includes a detailed list of emergency contacts, both internal and external. Internal contacts may include designated personnel responsible for coordination, medical staff, and security personnel, while external contacts may involve duty of care providers, emergency services, local authorities, and relevant utility services. Having readily available and up-to-date contact information ensures quick and effective communication during critical situations.


From first aid responders to evacuation coordinators and communication liaisons, defining roles ensures that everyone knows their responsibilities and acts accordingly and in concert with one another. This proactive approach minimizes confusion, optimizes response times, and contributes to the overall effectiveness of the emergency response.


Be sure to outline communication strategies that you’ll employ during different phases of an emergency, such as notifications from an emergency notification system, public address system announcements, or an internal company intranet.   

Other important aspects of an EAP to outline may include a method for accounting for all personnel after an emergency, or procedures for reporting emergencies if one is not obvious.


Developing an effective EAP demands careful attention to various components. A crucial initial step involves conducting comprehensive risk assessments specific to the organization's operations. Because threats to a business can come from any direction, many stakeholders within the organization play an integral role in identifying areas of concern and potentialities.

This collaborative effort involves individuals such as members of the Emergency Response Team, human resources, department heads, and representatives from different functional areas. By incorporating diverse perspectives, the resulting EAP becomes a more comprehensive and inclusive document, reflecting the collective expertise and insights of those involved in its implementation.

Periodic review and updates are vital for maintaining the relevance and effectiveness of the EAP. Changes in personnel, facility layout, or the identification of new risks necessitate regular assessments to guarantee that the plan remains a useful tool. This means that the development of an effective EAP is an ongoing process, with quarterly or bi-annual tabletop exercises to ensure its efficacy in safeguarding lives and reducing chaos and confusion during emergencies.

The responsibility to protect the enterprise and everyone who works there falls on everybody, from the CEO on down.

It is not always easy or straightforward to obtain the buy-in needed from employees at every level – committing to regular training, tabletop exercises, understanding new protocols, and updating outdated practices – but the responsibility to protect the enterprise and everyone who works there falls on everybody, from the CEO on down.


Once an EAP has been developed, the successful implementation and integration into the day-to-day operations of a business are critical for its effectiveness. Consider the following tips to ensure a seamless and efficient execution:

  1. Clear communication channels: Establish and maintain clear communication channels for emergency situations. Regularly test these channels and ensure that all employees are aware of their functionality.
  2. Training and drills: Conduct regular training sessions and drills to familiarize employees with the EAP. These practical exercises not only reinforce preparedness but also help identify areas for improvement in real-time, ensuring that everyone is well-prepared for emergencies.
  3. Integration with existing processes: Seamlessly integrate emergency procedures into existing business processes. This includes incorporating emergency response steps into daily routines, workflow structures, and employee onboarding processes.
  4. Assigning emergency roles: Clearly define and communicate the roles and responsibilities of designated emergency responders, particularly rescue or medical roles for employees with that background. Well-trained individuals with clearly defined roles contribute significantly to the effectiveness of the emergency response.
  5. Vetting your vendors: Your third-party vendors also need the capabilities and information necessary to execute your plan. Regularly ensure that your vendors are always in alignment with your plan to avoid conflict and confusion in a crisis.

Additionally, some businesses may find it helpful to develop and implement their EAP with the help of their third-party duty of care provider like Global Guardian. These organizations specialize in occupational health and safety, risk management, and emergency preparedness. Their role extends beyond merely meeting legal obligations, as they bring a nuanced understanding of industry-specific risks and best practices. Duty of care providers conduct thorough risk assessments, ensuring the EAP is tailored to the unique challenges faced by the business.

Furthermore, duty of care providers often excel in training programs, educating employees on the intricacies of the EAP and facilitating realistic tabletop exercises and worst-case, what-if scenarios through mock events. Their ongoing, rigorous exercises contribute to the plan's continuous improvement.

The creation and implementation of an effective emergency action plan is essential to fostering a secure and prepared environment within any business. By leveraging the expertise of duty of care providers and diligently following key strategies, businesses can ensure that their EAP not only complies with regulations but also becomes an integral part of their organizational culture. Prioritizing clear communication, training, and on-going updates fosters a proactive approach to risk management, ultimately safeguarding lives, protecting assets, and promoting resilience in the face of unforeseen emergencies.

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