Related Information


Emergency Response

Chapter 296-824, WAC

Effective Date: 10/01/02

Helpful Tools


WAC 296-824-200 

For printing


Your responsibility:

To anticipate and plan for emergency response operations.

You must

Develop an emergency response plan.

WAC 296-824-20005


WAC 296-824-20005

You must

Develop an emergency response plan.



  • You may already have an emergency response plan, such as required by chapter 296-843 WAC, Hazardous waste operations or by state and locally coordinated response efforts (Section 303 of Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), Title III). You may use those plans to comply with this section, if they include the items listed below.
  • Before a written emergency response plan can be developed, you will need to anticipate the types of uncontrolled releases that employees could encounter in your workplace(s).

You must

(1) Make sure your plan is written and adequately addresses, as a minimum, all of the following:

  • Preemergency planning and coordination with additional responders (including personnel from other employers such as: Fire departments, law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services, and state or federal agencies)
  • Personnel roles, (See Table 1) and lines of authority and communications for all affected parties including responders
  • Employee training (see WAC 296-824-30005 for more detail)



  • Responders' level of training depends on the duties or roles the employer assigns.
  • Training for the employees' role should address the competencies specified in Tables 3 through 6.
  • Training on specific substances may be appropriate depending on the number and characteristics of hazardous substances expected to be encountered. For example, if employees may only respond to one substance, you could provide training (covering the knowledge and skills specified in Tables 3 through 6) on that single substance. If employees might respond to a range of hazardous substances, training may be required to cover categories of hazardous substances.
  • Videos and automated training methods (for example: Interactive computer-based programs) may be used in training; however,instructors must be readily available to:
    • - Encourage and provide responses to questions for the benefit of the group.
    • - Evaluate employee understanding of the material.
    • - Provide other instructional interaction to the group.
  • Emergency recognition
  • Immediate emergency procedures including:
    • - Methods of alerting employees (see WAC 296-800-310, exit routes and employee alarm systems) and outside responders
    • - Procedures for limited action (emergency prevention)



Limited action includes shutting down processes, closing emergency valves and other critical actions to secure the operation, or prevent the incident from increasing in severity.

Limited Action and Employee Roles


Then employees involved would be...

Limited action could be conducted in the danger area

Considered emergency responders

Limited action wouldn't be conducted in the danger area

Considered evacuees, not emergency responders

  • - Details of who will evacuate immediately and who will remain behind for limited action
  • - Evacuation routes and procedures
  • - How to establish safe distances and places of refuge (for example,  during emergency response the incident commander (IC) decides to make changes based on new developments, i.e., changes in the wind direction).
  • Methods of securing and controlling access to the site
  • Emergency medical treatment and first aid
  • A complete personal protective equipment (PPE) program that addresses:
    • - Selection of PPE including selection criteria to be used and the identification, specified use and limitations of the PPE selected.
    • - Training on proper use of PPE (including maintenance).
    • - Hazards created by wearing PPE including heat stress during temperature extremes, and/or other appropriate medical considerations.
    • - Criteria used for determining the proper fit of PPE.
    • - Procedures covering proper use of PPE including procedures for inspection, putting it on (donning) and removing it (doffing).
    • - Maintenance of PPE including procedures for decontamination, disposal and storage.
    • - Methods used to evaluate the effectiveness of your PPE program.



  • - If a manufacturer's printed information or WISHA rule adequatelyaddresses procedural requirements (such as donning or doffing for PPE), it isn't necessary to rewrite this into your program; simply attach the printed information.
  • - You may use written procedures provided by the equipment manufacturer when they meet the requirements of other chapters, including
    chapter 296-842 WAC, Respirators.
  • - Emergency equipment
  • - Emergency response procedures
  • - Decontamination procedures determined by a hazardous materials specialist or other qualified individual
  • - Methods to critically assess the response and conduct appropriate follow-up


You must

(2) Make your written emergency response plan available to employees, their representatives, and WISHA personnel for inspecting or copying.



In situations where multiple employers could respond to an incident, all plans should consistently address:

  • - Who will be designated as the incident commander (IC)
  • - If, when, and how transfer of the incident commander position will take place

Helpful Tool

Helpful Tool:
Developing Emergency Response Plan

Your employees are encouraged to use this form to help carry out the emergency response program in your workplace.

Table 1

Roles and Duties of Emergency Responders

If the employee's role is...

Then all of the following apply.  They...

First responder at the awareness level

  • Are likely to witness or discover a hazardous substance release
  • Are trained to initiate an emergency response by notifying the proper authorities of the release
  • Take no further action beyond notifying the authorities

First responder at the operations level

  • Respond to actual or potential releases in order to protect nearby persons, property, and/or the environment from the effects of the release
  • Are trained to respond defensively, without trying to stop the release
  • May try to:
    • - Confine the release from a safe distance
    • - Keep it from spreading
    • - Protect others from hazardous exposures

Hazardous materials technician

  • Respond to releases or potential releases, with the intent of stopping the release 
  • Are trained to approach the point of release offensively in order to, either:
    • - Plug
    • - Patch
    • - Stop the release using other method

Hazardous materials specialist

  • Respond along with, and provide support to, hazardous materials technicians
  • Are required to have more specific knowledge of hazardous substances than a hazardous materials technician
  • Act as the site activity liaison when federal, state, local, and other government authorities participate

Incident commander

  • Have ultimate responsibility for:
    • - Direction
    • - Control
    • - Coordination of the response effort
    • - Will assume control of the incident beyond the first responder awareness level

Specialist employee

  • Are a technical, medical, environmental, or other type of expert
  • May represent a hazardous substance manufacturer, shipper, or a government agency
  • May be present at the scene or may assist from an off-site location
  • Regularly work with specific hazardous substances
  • Are trained in the hazards of specific substances
  • Are expected to give technical advice or assistance to the incident commander or incident safety officer, when requested

Skilled support personnel

  • Are needed to perform an immediate, specific emergency support task at the site
  • Are skilled in the operation of equipment including:
    • - Earth moving equipment
    • - Cranes
    • - Hoisting equipment

Incident safety officer

  • Are designated by the incident commander
  • Are knowledgeable in operations being implemented at the site
  • Have specific responsibility to:

    - Identify and evaluate hazards

    - Provide direction on employee safety matters

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