Emergency Response

Chapter 296-824, WAC

Effective Date: 10/01/02

Helpful Tools

WAC 296-824

Helpful Tool: Developing Emergency Response Plans

Use this tool with Chapter 296-824 WAC (Emergency Response)

Important Information!

Chapter 296-824 WAC, Emergency Response to Hazardous Substance Releases Rule, requires you to do the following if there could be an uncontrolled release of a hazardous substance in your workplace:
  • Develop and follow an Emergency Response Plan (ERP)
  • Develop and follow an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)
This optional tool will help you develop an ERP. Planning an ERP and preparing designated employees for responding (including training, equipment, and medical surveillance) is more complex than the requirements for an EAP.

Before using this guideline see:
  • The “Scope” section of Chapter 296-824 for more information about uncontrolled releases.
  • The EAP requirements in Chapter 296-24-567 WAC, Employee Emergency Plans and Fire Prevention Plans.


  • Before you use this guideline:
    • - Identify (by performing a hazard assessment), the types of uncontrolled hazardous substance releases that could occur in your workplace.
    • - Familiarize yourself with the rule requirements in Chapter 296-824 WAC.

Follow all these steps to plan for EACH TYPE of uncontrolled release that could occur.

Step 1. Identify expected hazards.

  • Hazard assessment needs to be done by an individual who has appropriate technical knowledge and experience.
  • This information forms the basis for selection of personal protective equipment (PPE) and development of emergency response procedures.
  • If confined spaces could exist site-specific evaluations and procedures may be necessary. Follow requirements in Chapter 296-62 WAC, Part M to identify confined spaces.

Step 2. Make sure all potential participants are involved in planning, whether the response involves only your employees or other employees at the site. Make a written agreement covering all of the following:

How potential participants will be notified when a release occurs. Be specific about the communication system to be used (for example, method to use, and sequence of contact).

What roles your employees will take during the response.

  • See Table 1 in Chapter 296-824 WAC for roles and duties employees may assume during a response.

Who assumes the Incident Commander position both initially and whenever a new response participant arrives.

  • New response participants you should consider are site-response teams, fire departments, law enforcement, HAZMAT teams, emergency medical services, state or federal officials, and other affected employers in the vicinity.

Step 3. Describe how your employees will be alerted to the release.

  • Examples of methods to use for alerting employees include dedicated radio frequencies, siren blasts, and alarms linked to monitoring devices.

Step 4. Plan and describe your site’s evacuation procedures. Specify:

Who initiates the evacuation and notifies employees
Primary and alternate escape routes
Who will assist in evacuating employees, including physically challenged employees
Where the “safe” primary and secondary assembly areas will be
How you will account for all employees and any others present
How first aid needs will be supported

Step 5. For releases at your facility or job site, decide if any of your employees (for example, process operators) need to control or shut down critical processes before designated responders arrive.

  • If actions require these employees to enter the danger area they need to be trained as emergency responders.
Develop procedures for these employees, including:
  • Identifying circumstances that trigger such actions
  • Specifying how selected employees will be notified to start the procedures
  • Describing how to perform actions safely


Step 6. Identify employees who will be emergency responders. Make arrangements to train these employees, or certify competencies, on their expected roles and duties.

Decide and document how competencies will be determined.
Review course outlines to make sure training is complete.
Make sure documentation of training or competency is provided.

Step 7. Develop and carry out a medical surveillance program for your employees as specified in Chapter 296-824 WAC, Sections 11050 through 11060.

Identify covered employees.
Make arrangements for appropriate medical surveillance (for example: exams or consultations).
Provide and document the appropriate surveillance for employees.

Step 8. Develop and carry out a written PPE program for your emergency response employees that covers all of the following:

Selection of PPE for the hazards expected
Limitations, capabilities and hazards of wearing PPE
How to identify and prevent heat stress (and related injuries), if applicable
Proper fit procedures for PPE, if applicable
Procedures for maintenance (decontamination, cleaning, repairs, storage and disposal)
Training and documentation to support all program elements

How to effectively evaluate the PPE program

  • You can combine other written PPE-related program requirements from the WISHA Safety and Health Core Rules, Chapter 296-800 WAC, and The General Occupational Health Standards, Chapter 296-62 WAC, into this program to prevent duplication of written programs.

Step 9. Make arrangements to properly equip your emergency response employees. Provide:

PPE such as respirators, protective suits, gloves.
Rescue equipment, if needed (for example, retrieval devices for confined spaces).
Air-monitoring devices and other field equipment, if needed.


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