What is a Construction Emergency Action Plan?

An emergency action plan is a work document that is written in accordance with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards. Its purpose is to facilitate and organize the actions that the employee and employer will take whenever an emergency happens in a workplace. A construction emergency action plan establishes a detailed organizational structure for response to emergencies in a construction workplace. It also assigns roles and responsibilities for the implementation of the plan during an emergency. For a construction emergency action plan to work effectively, it needs to be well-developed, and proper emergency training of the construction workers (for them to understand their respective roles and responsibilities in the action plan) must be carried out. An effective action plan results in fewer and less severe injuries and less structural damage to the construction facility whenever emergencies occur.

What are the Elements of a Construction Emergency Action Plan?

A proper construction emergency action plan put in place enables the employees to properly follow it and enables the operations to quickly get back on track should an emergency occur. It also helps the construction workers take fast and effective action should disaster strike, and eases the severity of the emergency situation, and also acts as a consequence limitation. In making a construction emergency action plan, it is important to take note of the following elements:

Emergency Contact Numbers. This element is arguably one of the most important pieces of information that an employer needs to know. All the personnel who work in the construction site should be listed here, including their contact numbers as well as their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency. Emergency contact numbers from external sources of help should also be listed, such as those from the fire department, paramedics team, the police department, and the utility services such as water, electricity, internet, and telephone.Evacuation Routes and Procedures. This element should clearly outline and define the emergency evacuation routes in the construction site. In addition to that, the site should be clearly mapped out and be familiarized by everyone who works at the workplace. The map of the construction site should clearly identify the location of the fire extinguishers, the first aid kits, alarm systems that are in place, and the gathering point where the construction workers should meet when an emergency arises. In addition to having these systems in place, every person on the construction site should also be familiarized with multiple evacuation routes.Rescue/Medical Attention Plan. A rescue plan in a construction site should always be implemented by trained personnel. If the construction site happens to have multiple tight spaces, an appropriate rescue plan that includes rescuing trapped workers should be implemented. If medical facilities such as hospitals and clinics are easily accessible near the construction site, the ideal thing to do would be to make arrangements with such facilities so that they can handle the workplace emergencies at short notice. Most importantly, workers on the site should have proper first aid training.Methods of Reporting Emergencies. A construction emergency action plan should include methods on how to report incidents, accidents, and emergencies. It must also contain the details on how to evacuate the site should any untoward incident happen. In addition to that, all devices that notify personnel of emergencies must be properly working, such as the alarms. An emergency communication system to contact external sources of help should also be readily in place.

Emergency Procedures in Dealing With Accidents in the Construction Site

Here are the appropriate procedures to observe in case something untoward happens in the construction site:

Common Accidents in a Construction Site

Since a construction site contains many moving elements, such as heavy equipment and moving personnel, as well as having many temporary installations present, it is no stranger to accidents. Here are the most common ones:

Falls. This is one of the greatest risks that are present in a construction site. This accounts for the most construction-related deaths. Falls can happen whenever there is inadequate fall protection that is installed in a construction site. Poor scaffoldings also serve as a reason why falls are common on the construction site.Slips and Trips. Slips and trips occur whenever there is a loss of traction between the walking surface and the shoe or whenever there is inadvertent contact with a fixed or a foreign object. Unpatched holes, misplaced equipment, uneven ground, and unkempt wires are generally the cause for most slips and trips on the construction site. These accidents can still occur even if there is enough safety training for the personnel and even if proper precautions are observed.Getting electrocuted. This accident is one of the four leading causes of workplace fatalities. The best-case scenario that could happen when you get an electric shock will only be mild discomfort. The severity of this accident depends on the amount of voltage that passes through the victim’s body at a given time. Causes of getting electrocuted in the workplace are exposed wires from extension cords, electrical outlets, substandard electrical machinery/appliances, live or downed power lines, and thunderstorms.Foreign objects. Getting struck by foreign objects is also one of the leading causes of workplace injuries or death on the construction site. Objects that fall from great heights, flying debris, improperly secured loads that come loose, and rolling loads can strike an unsuspecting construction worker. To protect the construction workers or anyone on the construction site from this kind of threat, it is important to let them know that the use of personal protective equipment (such as hard hats, safety goggles, gloves) inside the area especially when dealing with machinery and tools is a requirement and not an option.Getting crushed. This workplace accident refers to when a worker’s body becomes caught, crushed, or squeezed between objects. Crushing injuries happen whenever a large object moving at a high rate of speed comes into contact with an unsuspecting person. Broken bones and internal organ damage are common results from this. Types of machinery that can cause crushing injuries include a swinging crane or a large piston. In order to help avoid this risk, it is important that the personnel operating the machinery is authorized and knows what he/she is doing, and is well-trained with any emergency procedures regarding that machinery.

How to Prepare a Construction Emergency Action Plan?

Emergency action plans provide strategies to combat specific situations and assign responsibilities for implementation that any worker on the construction site must follow during an emergency situation. With that being said, here are the steps you can follow in preparing an effective construction emergency action plan:

Step 1: Familiarize every possible scenario.

The first step in creating an emergency action plan is to identify the types of emergencies that can occur on the construction site. It includes various hazards, from fire hazards, electrical hazards, foreign objects, to something as extreme as possible terrorist activities. It is important to not limit your response planning within the company’s boundaries, as there are some external factors that can also contribute to emergencies. In writing an emergency action plan for the construction site, you also need to consider how each unique scenario impacts the workplace and list all possible effects it has.

Step 2: Identify what to do and list down the tasks.

Understanding and identifying the various emergencies the construction site can experience helps with determining the appropriate actions you want the workers to take. Nothing is simple, and you cannot just tell your employees to pack up and leave when everything seems chaotic. Clearly defining the possible and suitable response also helps with their safety. You should also list here the steps that the workers should do should an emergency take place. In writing down the tasks, it is important to make them as simple and achievable as possible.

Step 3: Designate assembly points and familiarize the optimal evacuation routes.

Designating safe assembly locations where the construction workers meet after an evacuation is of utmost importance. Also, creating alternative assembly points is recommended in certain situations wherein the primary assembly point is deemed too hazardous or has been compromised by the accident. Aside from an alternate assembly point, include various routes in case the pathways are blocked or unsafe. Having these secure locations is useless if your employees cannot reach them or if they suffer injuries along the way. It is important to double-check all the evacuation routes toward the assembly points created frequently to avoid possible obstructions and ensure that the pathway remains safe.

Step 4: Always account for every worker.

Create an effective system that guarantees every worker on the construction site is well accounted for after an immediate evacuation. You can assign team leaders for each floor to have a list of workers for verification once everyone has arrived at the designated assembly point. For locations that use access cards or security verifications, guarantee real-time records for faster validation. One of the best ways to account for everyone is through implementing the buddy system, wherein the workers pair up with one another and are responsible for knowing the other’s location.

Step 5: Create an appropriate response drill.

The best way of doing response drills is to create a schedule. It is difficult to propose a response drill if every worker on-site is busy finishing up projects or work quotas. Before issuing the exercise, take note of the location and the number of participants joining. If setting up drills is out of the question, holding a meeting with small teams within the construction site and discussing the appropriate evacuation plans can serve as an effective alternative approach. In doing so, you can emphasize the importance of evacuation. It also serves as a way to help the workers understand their roles of being gathered at a safe area during an emergency.


What are the categories of workplace emergencies?

Here are the three categories of workplace emergencies:

Emergencies Outside the Building – this refers to weather-related emergencies and natural disasters, such as typhoons, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hailstorms. These kinds of events have varying levels of warning and danger, so it is important that all workers know how to deal with them.

Emergencies Within the Building – this refers to emergencies that occur inside the workplace, such as power outages, fires, or an active shooter or criminal in the building. The main goal of dealing with this emergency is to get everyone out safely. Having a good knowledge of the workplace and the evacuation routes is essential for the staff to anticipate any unforeseen detours during evacuation.

Health Emergencies – this refers to emergencies that are related to someone’s health, such as heart attacks, seizures, getting injured in the workplace, broken bones, etc. Depending on the severity of the emergency, local emergency services may be contacted.

What are the hazardous substances that can be found on a construction site?

Here are the different types of hazardous substances in a construction site. Their sources can come externally or internally.

  • biological hazards
  • corrosive hazards
  • explosive hazards
  • flammable hazards
  • toxic hazards
  • in rare cases, radioactive hazards
  • oxidizable hazards

Should you alert authorities to any kind of emergency?

In most scenarios, workplace emergencies can necessitate having to call the appropriate authorities, such as the fire and rescue department, emergency medical services, or the police department. It is also important to designate someone in the workplace to make the call to the authorities should an emergency arise. With that being said, an effective emergency action plan must list all the emergency numbers from external help so they can easily be contacted whenever they are needed.

Working in a construction site usually means difficult work is always faced throughout your shift. Aside from the difficulties faced, it is also dangerous. An effective construction emergency action plan helps the workers on the site take quick and effective action in case a disaster happens at the workplace. In turn, it lessens the severity of the emergency situation. In this article, examples of an effective action plan regarding construction emergencies are presented above for you to personally use as a reference if you need to create one.