Company uses template for safety, evacuation plans

Put safety and disaster instructions in writing

When Juneau-based Alaskan Brewing Company decided to apply to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)'s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), the company had to comply with two major requirements: Consolidating all policies and practices into a formal safety plan, and developing an emergency action plan.

Alaskan Brewing already performed annual evacuation drills. "I had set up a bunch of evacuation route maps on the walls so that people knew how to get out of the building during an emergency. It worked out really well, but we really didn't have an evacuation plan detailed in writing," says plant manager Curtis Holmes.

"We also had to have a minimum list of scenarios covered to meet the federal OSHA requirements for an evacuation plan," Holmes says. The company already had policies in place for how to alert employees about a leak from their liquid CO2 tank, but the emergency action plan needed to cover other scenarios such as earthquakes, tidal waves, bomb threats, or potential workplace violence. "When we set up the plan, we had to take into account all these other situations we had never even considered," says Holmes. (Click here to see the company's standard operating procedures for emergency evacuations.)

An OSHA consultant supplied a template for the Emergency Action Plan, which saved a significant amount of time, says Holmes.

"If we didn't have the template, it would have taken much longer to put together what is now a 70-page document with all our safety forms," he says. "The template was already laid out, and we got a sense of what OSHA was looking for."

For each scenario, the action plan outlines where employees should go. "Obviously if there is a tidal wave, you don't want to stay in the building, so we head for the hill behind the brewery. If there's an earthquake, we found the most protected central place, because we have a lot of big tanks that could tip over. We have an empty lot right across the street from the brewery that is our designated location," says Holmes. The evacuation plan also instructs all supervisors to perform a head count of employees to be sure no one is missing, and it identifies which individual will be the point person for emergency services.

The company also used a template supplied by OSHA to create its safety plan, which covers procedures such as forklift training, accident investigations, first aid, and confined space procedures. "This is basically a giant standard operating procedure for all our safety regulations that we have set up," says Holmes. "A lot of the content included in this safety plan we were already practicing, but the plan puts it all on paper for reference and standardization. The template was very straightforward, and we just had to edit it to add in our own content." The safety plan is useful as a reference tool to answer employee questions, says Holmes. "It also works well for training, because it's broken down into sections, so we can give a department head a section for training employees on a certain area," he says.

[Editor's note: An excerpt of the company's Safety Plan available with the online version of Occupational Health Management. If you're accessing your online account for the first time, go to www.reliasmedia.com. Click on the "Activate Your Subscription" tab in the left-hand column. Then follow the easy steps under "Account Activation." If you already have an online subscription, go to www.reliasmedia.com. In the box labeled "Subscriber Direct Connect to Online Newsletters, choose "Occupational Health Management" and then click "Sign on" from the left-hand column to log in. Once you're signed in, select "2007" and then select the August 2007 issue. For assistance, call Customer Service at (800) 688-2421.]