Here are five topics you should train employees on in preparation for jobsite emergencies:

  • Emergency action plans
  • First aid/emergency response
  • Bloodborne pathogens
  • Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER)
  • Workplace violence

Emergency action plans

A written emergency action plan helps employees understand the correct way to respond to a specific emergency. It also establishes procedures employees must take during and after an emergency evacuation. Only a few OSHA construction standards require employers to have an emergency action plan. These are:

  • Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER)
  • Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals
  • Ethylene Oxide
  • Methylenedianiline (MDA) Standard

For practical purposes, all employers should develop a plan to ensure the safety of their employees should an emergency occur, whether or not OSHA requires such a plan.

If you do have an emergency action plan, you must train workers:

  • Upon initial assignment to a role.
  • When their responsibility or designated actions under the plan change.
  • When the plan changes.

An emergency action plan should address all possible emergency situations such as fires and severe weather. If a plan is required, OSHA indicates it must have the following elements:

  • Methods for reporting a fire or another emergency.
  • Procedures for emergency evacuation, including exit route assignments.
  • Procedures for employees who remain to operate critical equipment or perform functions before they evacuate.
  • Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation.
  • Procedures for employees performing rescue or medical duties.
  • Names or job titles of individuals to contact for more information about the plan or an explanation of duties under the plan.

First aid/emergency response

In case of a medical emergency, first aid must be made available as early as possible. OSHA requires employers to adequately train selected employees to perform first aid if a hospital, clinic, or infirmary is not nearby.

If employees are not designated and trained first aid providers, they must not attempt to administer first aid. Instead, have them follow these steps:

  1. Call for help. Tell employees where landline telephones (if available) are located and post the number to call in the event of a medical emergency. Calling 911 on a cell phone may not work on all jobsites.
  2. Make sure they treat all blood and Other Potentially Infectious Materials (OPIM) as if it’s infectious.
  3. Have an employee stay with the injured person, and then step aside as soon as a qualified responder like an Emergency Medical Technician arrives.

Bloodborne pathogens

Bloodborne pathogens can enter the body when an infected person’s blood or other potentially infectious materials come in contact with a person’s eyes, mouth, nasal membranes, blisters and open wounds. Being cut or punctured by a sharp object that is contaminated with someone’s blood is another way workers can be exposed.  Instruct employees that if they injure themselves while on the job to call for help and request first aid as soon as possible.


In construction work the reality is that your employees could be exposed to chemical spills or hazardous waste —discarded chemicals that are toxic, flammable, or corrosive and can cause fires, explosions, and pollution of air, water, and land. OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard, or HAZWOPER Standard, regulates hazardous waste operations and emergency response related to hazardous substances.

Much of the standard applies to large hazardous waste cleanup operations and hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. Some parts of the standard apply to the emergency response to a release of a hazardous substance -- wherever it occurs.

An important part of the HAZWOPER standard pertains to training. Make sure employees know that if they have not received training, they must not respond to a chemical spill. Instead, instruct them to follow your company’s emergency action plan for reporting hazardous spills and evacuating.

Some workplaces have emergency response teams trained to handle chemical spills and releases; others use outside emergency services to respond. Be sure your employees are aware of what resources are available to them in an emergency, and how to deploy them.

Workplace violence

Workplace violence can be defined as, “violence or the threat of violence against employees, customers, or vendors.”

Workplace violence situations rarely erupt without warning. The key to controlling workplace violence is to identify and deal with potential problems before they get out of hand. Instruct employees about the following potential warning signs:

  • A good employee suddenly becomes a problem employee.
  • An employee becomes increasingly frustrated, lashes out, or picks fights with coworkers.
  • A coworker becomes obsessed with and carries weapons.
  • A coworker becomes intimidating or begins bullying others.
  • A coworker showing signs of physically aggressive body language.
  • Employees have received threats or are intimidated by someone they know.

Employees should:

  • Be alert to the warning signs.
  • Know your company’s crisis management or emergency response procedures.
  • Know in advance how to respond to threats and violent acts.
  • Be on the lookout and report any physical security concerns.
  • Inform management if they feel threatened or if they have a restraining order against another person.

Take away

Training your employees to deal with emergency situations plays an important role in keeping them safe on the jobsite and able to go home at the end of the workday.