Getting a Basic Life Support Certification

Getting a Basic Life Support Certification

Basic Life Support or BLS refers to a type of care that first responders, health care responders, and other public safety professionals provide to a person in a life-threatening emergency, such as cardiac arrest, respiratory distress, or obstructed airwaves.

EMR Safety and Health offers a BLS Certification Program that teaches students how to promptly recognize several life-threatening emergencies and respond with high-quality chest compressions, deliver ideal ventilation, and provide proper use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and Bag Valve Mask (BVM).

What Are the Advantages of Getting A BLS Certification?

EMR Safety and Health offers several courses and training classes that equip you with the knowledge and skills to respond better to life threatening situations. Here are a few reasons why getting a BLS Certification makes sense:

Increase confidence: Having robust confidence is extremely important in the medical field. Our BLS training classes give you the confidence to act quickly and decisively in emergencies.

Always be prepared: The knowledge and experience you gain from these classes enable you to provide help to others in several scenarios, including at the workplace, on the road, at the mall, and more. Having a BLS Certification equips you with critical knowledge to handle all sorts of situations, from choking to severe head injuries.

Increases your value as an employee: Having a BLS Certification means you have skills that will increase your value as a potential employee. Employers in some specific fields look favorably on applicants with BLS Certifications. This is because most organizations prefer an employee who can perform and administer live-saving methods during workplace emergencies.

Who Should Take BLS Classes?

A BLS Certification from EMR Safety and Health is ideal for healthcare personnel and other people who want to know how to perform basic cardiovascular life support skills and CPR in a range of settings. Specifically, our BLS Certification program is designed for:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Paramedics
  • Laboratory Technicians
  • Clinical Officers
  • Ambulance Drivers
  • Pharmacists And Pharmacy Technicians
  • Nurse Aids/ Healthcare Assistants / Orderlies
  • Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Safety Professionals and Managers

Basically, a BLS Certification is ideal for anyone who interacts with patients in various settings, including home care facilities.

What Types of Courses Are Offered?

A typical BLS Certification program covers a wide range of areas designed to equip you with the necessary skills to respond better to emergencies. It may offer single-rescuer and team basic life support skills, methods to evaluate an emergency, the measures to take, and legal concerns when offering life-saving care. It may also equip you with the knowledge to handle situations such as choking and drug overdoses.

At EMR Safety and Health we offer a broad range of certification programs including:

 General courses for students

 Instructor courses


Ready to Get Your BLS Certification?

You can enroll for a full classroom course, take online courses or a blend of both. At EMR Safety and Health, our goal is to make an impact and increase awareness through quality training. Click here to learn more and to register.

EMR Safety and Health Announces New S-CAT Certification Courses for Instructors

EMR Safety and Health, a national leader in safety and compliance training, is proud to announce a new set of certifications for instructors covering general industry, construction, healthcare and active shooter / workplace violence. The proprietary certifications will cover these areas and tells employers, students and industry professionals that you are well qualified and take compliance seriously.

The certifications are divided into two levels:

Red: Instructors the successfully complete an S-CAT instructor course
Blue: Students that successfully complete an S-CAT training class.

The certification program is retroactive and instructors that have already successfully completed core courses will receive a new certificate and card with the S-CAT emblem. The new program will allow instructors to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and show additional value to prospective students and employers.

Some legacy courses will be rebranded as follows:

  • Safety Compliance Awareness Instructor – General Industry the new name will be Safety Compliance Awareness Trainer (S-CAT) for General Industry
  • Safety Compliance Awareness Instructor – Construction the new name will be Safety Compliance Awareness Trainer (S-CAT) for Construction
  • Safety Compliance Awareness Instructor – OSHA for Healthcare the new name will be Safety Compliance Awareness Trainer (S-CAT) for OSHA and HIPPA for Healthcare
  • Safety Compliance Awareness Instructor – Active Shooter, Workplace Violence the new name will be Safety Compliance Awareness Trainer (S-CAT) for Active Shooter, Workplace Violence

EMR will be adding even more courses to the list as the program grows and we will keep instructors in the loop once they are live.

Interested instructors looking to expand their training portfolio and become an S-CAT certified instructor are encouraged to sign-up for our next round of courses. Classes are taught
live in our EMR Online Training Studio and all the course materials needed to teach the courses, including fact sheets, workbooks, curriculum, etc., are provided.

For more information and class schedules visit our S-CAT certification page.

Utilize Your Hard-Earned Task Management Skills to the Fullest

Written by our guest columnist Stephanie Haywood at

As a small business owner, you either possessed or developed certain task management abilities as you pursued your entrepreneurial dream. These may not be obvious skills that involve classes and certifications to obtain. You may even have employed them subconsciously as you went about your day-to-day tasks. However, they were integral to your success, and you can utilize them to aid you in your everyday life as well.

Critical Thinking

Many people operate on instinct. While this is not a bad thing, there are times when more is needed than reacting. Critical thinking involves looking at a situation, assessing it and actively asking questions about it to come to a conclusion. It is important for a number of reasons, including the decision-making process and effective problem-solving.

By applying critical thinking to both your business and personal lives, you are able to rationally figure out the options you have, the possible outcomes of each, and the best course of action. This applies whether you are deciding on a new supplier or picking the best school for your child. Critical thinking also helps avoid the consequences of making hasty choices.


Communication is an integral part of virtually every aspect of life. Negotiation is one part of communication that is especially vital. Without it, no deals can be made, and conflicts would remain unresolved for long periods or end in violent or unsatisfactory conclusions. Knowing how to compromise and persuade others to follow suit helps in both small and big aspects of life, from trying to convince a major company to sign a contract with you to settling who gets to pick the Friday night family movie.


As a business owner, you must juggle multiple obligations from family, friends, employees, suppliers and contractors, among others. Your time is already limited and the constant demands pulling on you can stretch it even thinner.

The best way to solve the problem is simple: Don’t do everything by yourself. Don’t even try. Rather than putting more strain on yourself, delegate small, easy tasks such as making appointments, doing inventory and filling out minor paperwork to employees. While there are responsibilities you cannot pass on to others, there are some you can, freeing up more time for the duties only you can perform. It also creates more room in your schedule for the non-business parts of your life. Don’t hesitate to delegate at home, either; assign chores so you’re not the only one doing the housework.

Use tools to save yourself time. For example, if you want to create a limited liability company for your enterprise, you don’t have to expend numerous hours doing legwork. There are formation services like ZenBusiness you can use instead that will cut down on the time investment.

Time Management

Time is a limited commodity. It is therefore imperative to use every second wisely in school, business and life in general. Time management is such a valuable tool that there are guides on it from government agencies, universities, and websites and whole courses dedicated to teaching it. Among other surprising statistics, research shows that ten to12 minutes of daily planning result in a time savings of up to two hours a day. Budgeting out your time, setting goals, writing down to-do lists and other time management tactics can help you make more time for family, friends and fun without neglecting your business.

As a business owner, you have skills such as delegation, time management, negotiation and critical thinking that have helped you on your journey. Remember to use these hard-won abilities in other parts of your life. Become the best leader you can be with Emergency Management Resources’ leadership courses and more. Learn more here.

American Heart Association Training

Anyone who is interested in becoming a part of the medical field, including allied health positions, should consider enhancing their knowledge with American Heart Association training. Here is more information regarding the American Heart Association Training courses that are available.

Basic Life Support (BLS) Training Course

The Basic Life Support course is available for blended learning and classroom training at EMR Safety and Health in Dallas, Texas. Each BLS training course teaches the same AHA science-based skills. Individuals who complete this course will receive an AHA BLS course completion card. The blended learning option features e-learning where students can complete part of the course at their own pace. The remaining part of this course is a hands-on skills session. The classroom format of the Basic Life Support course features an instructor-led, hands-on, classroom atmosphere. The BLS course is ideal for prehospital providers, including paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, and facility hospital providers. In this course, students will learn CPR for infants, children, and adults, the importance of the early use of an AED, and other basic life support essentials.

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) Training Course

The ACLS training course enhances the foundations of basic life-saving skills while focusing on the importance of preventing cardiac arrest. This advanced cardiac life support training course reflects the education and science from the 2020 American Heart Association Guidelines for CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC). The ACLS training course is ideal for health care professionals who manage cardiovascular emergencies for personnel in an emergency. Students who enroll in this course will be able to define systems of care, model effective communication, perform early management of cardiac arrest in various situations, including resuscitation, transfer of care and other skills.

Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) Training Course

The Pediatric Advanced Life Support Training Course is available in a blended learning setting online and classroom training. Students who complete this course will receive an AHA PALS Course Completion Card. The PALS training course is ideal for health care providers who respond to emergencies in children and infants, as well as personnel in emergency medicine, response, intensive care, and critical care units. This training course features clinical and realistic scenarios that encourage participation, hands-on class format and more. The Pediatric Advanced Life Support Training Course strives to improve the outcome of pediatric patients by teaching health care providers to recognize and intervene in situations that involve patients with shock, respiratory, and cardiopulmonary arrest emergencies.

These courses, along with many others, provide health care providers with enhanced knowledge of life-saving technology and advanced life-saving methods that improve a patient’s overall care and quality of life. Students who complete these courses can be more confident in their profession and the quality of care they provide. These American Heart Association Training courses are available online and at the Dallas, Texas, location for a traditional classroom learning experience.

Incident/Accident Investigation

Most accidents are blamed on the employee’s behavior.  There are cases where this is true, but usually, this is not the case.  Causes of accidents run much deeper than employee behavior.   

Every 1,000 near misses in the workplace is a practice for a minor incident.  Every 100 minor incidents in the workplace is a practice for the serious incident.  Every 10 serious incidents result ultimately in one fatality.  Every time we let a near miss go, without an investigation and correction, we are practicing for the fatalities.  Businesses need to address incidents at a preventive measure.   

Theories of the Cause of Accidents

Multiple Cause Theory uncovers root causes because accidents are not assumed to be simple events.  They are the result of a series of random related or unrelated acts/events that somehow interact to cause the accident.  This is a systems approach, which take into account the dynamics of systems that interact within the overall safety program.

The Domino Theory says that injury results from a series of related occurrences which lead to a final event, resulting in injury or illness.  Also referred to as a chain of related events.  It’s assumed that by eliminating any one action or event, the chain will be broken.

Single Event Theory is to blame the victim.  It’s simple right, Jim on one occasion reached into the machine without a tool. It’s convenient to blame the victim and all responsibility goes to him.  Blaming is a short-term fix, but in the long run blaming is expensive to implement and maintain.

Incident/Accident Steps to Investigation

    1. Get everyone safe
    2. Preserve and document scene
    3. Collect information
    4. Determine root causes
    5. Implement corrective actions

Information Analysis

After gathering all the information, conduct a structured analysis to determine the unique events that occurred.  Accurately determine the sequence of events and start by separating (breaking down) the incident into its component parts.  This is looking at pre-incident, during incident and post incident parts so that hazardous conditions, unsafe behaviors, and system weaknesses can be identified.

Sample Accident

EMS responds to an accident at your facility.  Mike was injured on August 1, 2020 in the power press shop area of the facility.  The accident occurred on a mechanical power press and Mike lost three fingers when he reached into the press to extract a part.  The press is operated by a foot pedal and it was not guarded.  The plexi-glass point of operation guard was left flipped up.  Mike was removing a tool stuck in the die and he hit the unguarded foot pedal.  Mike yelled for help and employees came running to his aid.  A supervisor arrived followed shortly by EMS first responders.  There was no emergency response team trained at the facility, but there was a first aid kit.

Example Sequence of Events

    1. Employee was hired and received orientation one week ago
    2. Maintenance removes a guard to work on press
    3. Maintenance does not have the needed part and is called away for another broken machine
    4. Maintenance fails to secure guard or post a “Do Not Use” sign
    5. Tool jams in press
    6. Employee fails to lock out the press before clearing the jam
    7. Employee bypasses unsecured guard
    8. Employee reaches into press without a hand tool
    9. Employee steps on unguarded foot pedal activating press
    10. Press dies closes on employee’s hand amputating three fingers (the injury incident)
    11. Supervisor and 911 are called
    12. Supervisor shows up with first aid kit
    13. 911 medics provide treatment at scene
    14. 911 medics transport employee to hospital

Causes of Accidents

Look below the Direct Cause of the amputation injury.  We must look at the Indirect Causes (behaviors and conditions) that led to the injury.  Conditions would include unguarded machine, broken tools or equipment, defective PPE or an untrained worker. Behaviors would include ignoring a hazard, failure to enforce or inspect, failure to train.   The Basic Root Cause of accidents pre-exist indirect and includes; inadequate training, no discipline or procedures, no orientation process, inadequate training, no inspections that recognize hazards, no labeling or signage to warn employees.

Injury Analysis

    1. Injury Analysis – amputation of three fingers caused by caught in, dies of press.
    2. Indirect Cause Analysis – hazardous conditions, foot pedal unguarded, and unsafe employee/manager/maintenance behaviors, employee bypasses unsecured guard, employee failed to lockout tagout, employee reaching unguarded die without hand tool and maintenance failed to secure guard
    3. Basic Root or Systems Analysis – press operator not trained, maintenance man had too much work and was in hurry, press operated working too fast, supervisor too busy, supervisor not conducting safety inspections of area and failed to train press operator.

OSHA’s View on Controlling Hazards

Employers must control hazards in the workplace and keep employees safe from harm.  The intention of the OSHA standards is that they are minimum requirements.  If a specific rule cannot be sited, the General Duty Clause says,  “employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees…”

What is a Competent Person?

What is a Competent Person?

“Competent Person” has:

    1. The knowledge to recognize a hazard, and
    2. The authority to correct it

Industries Requiring Competent Person Training

In the OSHA regulations, there are three big sections that necessitate a Competent Person:

    1. Scaffolding
    2. Fall Protection
    3. Excavations

Competent Person Training

Generally, these classes are twenty-four hours long, but taking the class is not enough.  How does taking a class make you competent?  Training will provide the knowledge, but who really knows you?  What are your capabilities and how do you apply what you learn?

Your employer must understand what you learned and understand how you performed on the course examination.  Employers must observe how you demonstrate your learning of recognizing and correcting hazards.  How do you handle others?  Are you respected by your peers and coworkers?  The employer looks at you from a liability standpoint and evaluates the risk.  So ultimately, the employer deems you competent and gives the authority to stop work and correct hazards in the workplace.

You can find competent person training here.

OSHA and the Competent Person

OSHA will ask for the Competent Person on job sites. They want to know:

    • If your employees know who the Competent Person is, and
    • To evaluate their knowledge and level of authority


OSHA could cite you if you do not have a competent person, or if your Competent Person is found lacking knowledge and information. It is important for the employer to select the right person for this role.  Competent Person’s must understand the responsibilities that come with the role. Title cannot be a haphazard appointment.

Competent Person Training

Competent Person” classes designed to present a higher level of education than your standard training classes.  It provide the information necessary to qualify somebody for this title. Employers must establish an assessment period for a new Competent Person and evaluate their ability. Once you are comfortable with your new Competent Person, give them the authority to operate and introduce them to the employees.  Employees need to know who to turn to with a question or concern.

Going Back to Work During COVID-19

Public health threats and a grieved economy have put us all in somewhat of a vise grip. Planning for the future is imperative for the workplace.  Back to work issues can create formidable challenges.

Workers and clients may feel nervous and unprepared, and some may have high-risk health conditions to increase the concerns.  The magnitude of these problems can be explosive if just one employee test positive for Covid-19.  Managing the ups and downs, the opening up, and locking down your workplace can be challenging.  As a small business, I had some valuable lessons come early that helped me navigate the Coronavirus Crisis.

Step 1 – Cloud-Based Office

In 2019 our company suffered when the building next to ours took a direct hit by a tornado.  Luckily, we had moved to a cloud base office the year before.  Phones, computers, and systems were literally in the cloud, and employees went home, sat at their computers, plugged in our internet-based phones, and kept answering calls and managing orders.

Step 2 – Communicate & Document Policies

A procedure is only useful if it is clearly communicated and documented.  Posting rules as with signage, making PPE and sanitizers available.


Defining contact and having rules such as limit handshaking, closed meeting spaces, hugging, or any physical contact that is not necessary for the job.  This includes not sharing pens, notebooks, markers, file folders, and more.


Reorganizing the floor plan to maintain social distancing.  Staggering workplaces, customers, and visitors. Adjusting desk, walls, and partitions require addressing.  How are break rooms, lounges, and other areas cleaned, used, and operated?  How many workers can be in the break room, copy room, or other tight space at one time?  Do you close them or limit access and clean between uses?  If so, this requires monitoring.  Do workers take their breaks at the desk instead of the break room?  Do you post signs reminding them to wash up before returning?  I think the answer to this is, we must consider each workplace, how it operates, and what is best for the workers.

Changing up the schedules of workers may be a good option for distancing.  Consider who can work at home and who needs to be onsite?  Could you realistically be virtual moving forward?  Try using tape on the floor to designate distancing rules and start outside to limit capacities.


Public health is everyone’s responsibility.  Doing everything possible to remind and ensure your workers gently, clients and vendors must come from a place of care.  Respectful and clear communications that are easy to follow must be the standard operating procedure.

Hand sanitizer stations (at least 60% alcohol) where do they provide the best access? Do you have temperature procedures?  As a school, we use the number 99.5; if their temp is at or above, employees are not allowed entry and must come on a day they feel well and temperature free.

Communal equipment cleaning rules are required equipment such as copy machines, industry-specific tools, and machinery.  Where is this equipment, and what are the procedures for cleaning?  You must indicate in writing to workers how and when this is to be performed.  Here is another potential area requiring monitoring.   One other thing to consider is how much of the workers’ time will all these added steps take, and how will it impact performance?

Personal Protective Equipment

What personal protective equipment (PPE) is required to do the job?  Where do they get it, how do they wear it, and when shall it be used?  Mask, gloves, and other PPE may be required.

Companies must state the requirement for wearing a face mask.  What are the federal, state, and local guidelines, and how do these impact your workplace?  Not only should they be written into the employee handbook, but how are you going to communicate and enforce this policy?  The purchase of PPE certainly impacts the budget, and how long can people reasonably wear masks?  Are there any consequences for employees who break the rule? What is a medical reason?

Step 3 – Opening Back Up

Emails and messaging on websites to workers and clients need to be clear and concise. Not only are you indicating that your opening, but what is motivating you do open and when are employees expected to return to work.  How have your operations changed to make clients feel safe?  Whom do they call if they have questions?

COVID Testing Procedures

While Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act rules prohibit employers from asking employees about their health, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act and the coronavirus, stating that employers have the right to screen employees for Covid-19. Other mandatory medical tests must be job-related and consistent with business needs.

  • Example #1 – An employee with flu-like symptoms was not positive for Covid-19; have they fully recovered? What is the definition of fully recovered?  At least three days have passed since recovery and no fever for a minimum of 72 hours (this is without the use of fever-reducing medications) or respiratory symptoms have improved, and seven days have passed since the beginning of any symptoms.
  • Example #2 – Employee with confirmed Covid-19, but no signs of illness. You can allow these employees to return to work only under all of the following conditions.
    • After, at least seven days have passed since the date of the first positive test.
    • They have not become ill, and for 3 additional days after the end of isolation
    • A negative test for Covid-19.
  • Example #3 – Employees with weakened immune systems. The CDC recommends more rigorous recommendation and should be determined on a case by case basis.

Requiring staff to return to the workplace vs. remaining at home

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employers must provide employees paid sick leave or expanded family medical leave if they can’t work because they have COVID-19 symptoms, are quarantined, or have to care for a child when schools or daycares are closed.

Unless an employee has been in contact with a staff member while they were infected, employers may not disclose test results (positive or negative).

Employers may not prohibit staff members from traveling for personal reasons, but they may require workers to undergo self-isolation before returning to work if traveling to areas of concern.

For this and many other Safety and Health topics, visit our Resources page.

Fire Safety Plans

Training workers about fire hazards in the workplace and what to do in a fire emergency is required. If you expect your workers to use firefighting equipment, you should give them appropriate equipment and train them to use the equipment safely.  These requirements are found in 29 CFR Part 1910 Subparts E and L; and Part 1926 Subparts C and F.)

Emergency Fire Exits

Every workplace must have enough exits located to enable quick evacuation. Consider the type of structure, the number of persons exposed, the fire protection available, the type of industry, the height of the building and type of construction of the building or structure.

Fire doors must not be blocked or locked when employees are inside. Delayed opening of fire doors, however, is permitted when an approved alarm system is integrated into the fire door design. Exit routes from buildings must be free of obstructions and properly marked with exit signs. See 29 CFR Part 1910.36 for details about all requirements.

Requirements for Portable Fire Extinguishers

OSHA does not absolutely require portable fire extinguishers, but Life, Health and Safety Code do require them.  However, if you expect your workers to use portable fire extinguishers, you must provide hands-on training in using this equipment. See 29 CFR Part 1910 Subpart L.

Emergency Action Plans

When required, employers must develop emergency action plans that:

      • Describe the routes for workers to use and procedures to follow.
      • Account for all evacuated employees.
      • Remain available for employee review.
      • Include procedures for evacuating disabled employees.
      • Address evacuation of employees who stay behind to shut down critical plant equipment.
      • Include preferred means of alerting employees to a fire emergency.
      • Provide for an employee alarm system throughout the workplace.
      • Require an alarm system that includes voice communication or sound signals such as bells, whistles, or horns.
      • Make the evacuation signal known to employees.
      • Ensure emergency training.
      • Require employer review of the plan with new employees and with all employees whenever the plan is changed.

Not every employer is required to have an emergency action plan. OSHA standards that require such plans include the following:

      • Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals, 1910.119
      • Fixed Extinguishing Systems, General,1910.160
      • Fire Detection Systems, 1910.164
      • Grain Handling, 1910.272
      • Ethylene Oxide, 1910.1047
      • Methylenedianiline, 1910.1050
      • 1,3 Butadiene, 1910.1051

Fire Prevention Plans

OSHA standards that require fire prevention plans include the following:

      • Ethylene Oxide, 1910.1047
      • Methylenedianiline, 1910.1050
      • 1,3 Butadiene, 1910.1051

Employers covered by these standards must implement plans to minimize the frequency of evacuations. All fire prevention plans must:

        • Be available for employee review.
        • Include housekeeping procedures for storage and cleanup of flammable materials and flammable waste.
        • Address handling and packaging of flammable waste. (Recycling of flammable waste such as paper is encouraged)
      • Cover procedures for controlling workplace ignition sources such as smoking, welding, and burning.
      • Provide for proper cleaning and maintenance of heat producing equipment such as burners, heat exchangers, boilers, ovens, stoves, and fryers and require storage of flammables away from this equipment.
      • Inform workers of the potential fire hazards of their jobs and plan procedures.
      • Require plan review with all new employees and with all employees whenever the plan is changed.

Fixed Fire Extinguishing Systems

Fixed extinguishing systems throughout the workplace are among the most reliable firefighting tools. These systems detect fires, sound an alarm, and send water to the fire and heat. To meet OSHA standards employers who have these systems must:

      • Substitute (temporarily) a fire watch of trained employees to respond to fire emergencies when a fire suppression system is out of service.
      • Ensure that the watch is included in the fire prevention plan and the emergency action plan.
      • Post signs for systems that use agents (e.g., carbon dioxide, Halon 1211, etc.) posing a serious health hazard.

Emergency Exit Routes and Plans

It’s late and you just checked into an older hotel.  You spend far too much time finding the room and getting settled.  Exhausted you fall into bed and sleep for what seems only minutes and alarms go off requiring you to evacuate.  Its dark, emergency lighting is not working, you suddenly smell smoke and your only job is to get out.

What is an Exit Route?

An exit route is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety. An exit route consists of three parts:

    1. Exit access – portion of an exit route that leads to an exit.
    2. Exit – portion of an exit route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.
    3. Exit discharge – part of the exit route that leads directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside.

How Many Exits Routes Must You Have?

A workplace must have at least two exit routes to permit prompt evacuation of employees and other building occupants during an emergency. More than two exits are required, if the number of employees, size of the building, or arrangement of the workplace will not allow employees to evacuate safely.

Exit routes must be located as far away as practical from each other in case one is blocked by fire or smoke. Exception: If the number of employees, the size of the building, its occupancy, or the arrangement of the workplace allows all employees to evacuate safely during an emergency, one exit route is permitted.

Design and Construction Requirements for Exit Routes

    • Exit routes must be permanent parts of the workplace.
    • Exit discharges must lead directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside. These exit discharge areas must be large enough to accommodate the building occupants likely to use the exit route.
    • Exit stairs that continue beyond the level on which the exit discharge is located must be interrupted at that level by doors, partitions, or other effective means that clearly indicate the direction of travel leading to the exit discharge.
    • Exit route doors must be unlocked from the inside. They must be free of devices or alarms that could restrict use of the exit route if the device or alarm fails.
    • Side-hinged exit doors must be used to connect rooms to exit routes. These doors must swing out in the direction of exit travel if the room is to be occupied by more than 50 people or if the room is a high-hazard area.
    • Exit routes must support the maximum permitted occupant load for each floor served, and the capacity of an exit route may not decrease in the direction of exit route travel to the exit discharge.
    • Ceilings of exit routes must be at least 7 feet, 6 inches high.
    • An exit access must be at least 28 inches wide at all points. Where there is only one exit access leading to an exit or exit discharge, the width of the exit and exit discharge must be at least equal to the width of the exit access. Objects that project into the exit must not reduce its width.
    • Outdoor exit routes are permitted but must meet the minimum height and width requirement for indoor exit routes and must−have guardrails to protect unenclosed sides if a fall hazard exists;−be covered if snow or ice is likely to accumulate, unless the employer can demonstrate accumulations will be removed before a slipping hazard exists;−be reasonably straight and have smooth, solid, substantially level walkways; and not have a dead-end longer than 20 feet.

What are the Requirements for Exits?

Exits must be separated by fire resistant materials—that is, one-hour fire-resistance rating if the exit connects three or fewer stories and two-hour fire-resistance rating if the exit connects more than three floors. Exits are permitted to have only those openings necessary to allow access to the exit from occupied areas of the workplace or to the exit discharge. Openings must be protected by a self-closing, approved fire door that remains closed or automatically closes in an emergency.

Maintenance, Safeguarding, and Operational Features for Exit Routes

OSHA standards require employers to:

    • Keep exit routes free of explosive or highly flammable furnishings and other decorations.
    • Arrange exit routes so employees will not have to travel toward a high-hazard area unless the path of travel is effectively shielded from the high-hazard area.
    • Ensure that exit routes are unobstructed such as by materials, equipment, locked doors, or dead-end corridors.
    • Ensure that safeguards designed to protect employees during an emergency remain in good working order.
    • Provide lighting for exit routes adequate for employees with normal vision.
    • Keep exit route doors free of decorations or signs that obscure the visibility of exit route doors.
    • Post signs along the exit access indicating the direction of travel to the nearest exit and exit discharge if that direction is not immediately apparent. Also, the line-of-sight to an exit sign must be clearly visible at all times.
    • Mark doors or passages along an exit access that could be mistaken for an exit “Not an Exit” or with a sign identifying its use (such as “Closet”).
    • Install “EXIT” signs in plainly legible letters.
    • Renew fire-retardant paints or solutions often enough to maintain their fire-retardant properties.
    • Maintain exit routes during construction, repairs, or alterations.
    • Provide an emergency alarm system to alert employees, unless employees can promptly see or smell a fire or other hazard in time to provide adequate warning to them.

Emergency Action Plans

If you have 10 or fewer employees, you may communicate your plan orally. If you have more than 10 employees, however, your plan must be written, kept in the workplace, and available for employee review.


    • Procedures for reporting fires and other emergencies.
    • Procedures for emergency evacuation, including the type of evacuation and exit route assignments.
    • Procedures for employees who stay behind to continue critical plant operations.
    • Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation.
    • Procedures for employees performing rescue or medical duties.
    • Name or job title of employees to contact for detailed plan information.
    • Alarm system to alert workers.


In addition, you must designate and train employees to assist in a safe and orderly evacuation of other employees. You must also review the emergency action plan with each employee covered when the following occur:

    • Plan is developed or an employee is assigned initially to a job.
    • Employee’s responsibilities under the plan changes.
    • Plan is changed.

Fire Prevention Plans

If you have 10 or fewer employees, you may communicate your plan orally. If you have more than 10 employees, however, your plan must be written, kept in the workplace, and available for employee review. Although employers are only required to have a fire prevention plan (FPP) when the applicable OSHA standard requires it, OSHA strongly recommends that all employers have a FPP.

The following OSHA standards require fire prevention plans:

    • Ethylene Oxide – 1910.1047
    • Methylenedianiline – 1910.1050
    • 1,3-Butadiene – 1910.1051

Minimum requirements

    • List of all major fire hazards, proper handling and storage procedures for hazardous materials, potential ignition sources and their control, and the type of fire protection equipment necessary to control each major hazard.
    • Procedures to control accumulations of flammable and combustible waste materials.
    • Procedures for regular maintenance of safeguards installed on heat-producing equipment to prevent the accidental ignition of combustible materials.
    • Name or job title of employees responsible for maintaining equipment to prevent or control sources of ignition or fires.
    • Name or job title of employees responsible for the control of fuel source hazards.


In addition, when you assign employees to a job, you must inform them of any fire hazards they may be exposed to. You must also review with each employee those parts of the fire prevention plan necessary for self-protection.

Exit Route Safety References

    • Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.33-39
    • OSHA Directive CPL 2-1.037, Compliance Policy for Emergency Action Plans and Fire Prevention Plans
    • National Fire Protection Association’s 101-2009
    • Life Safety Code
    • International Fire Code, 2009


Disaster Cleanup and Recovery

Disasters cause widespread flooding and property damage that expose employees to hazards during cleanup and recovery. Employers sending employees into Disaster Cleanup Area’s to do recovery have a responsibility, according to OSHA, to train employees appropriately and provide personal protective equipment.

Contaminated Floodwaters

The mold and fungi in the air employees breathe have the potential to make them sick. Bacteria and other infectious organisms (from sewage) in water and soil as well as toxic substances from flooded industrial and waste sites pose big hazards.

    • Employers must ventilate enclosed spaces with fresh air.
    • Assume that floodwater is contaminated unless proven otherwise.
    • Allow only trained workers with the proper personal protective equipment to clean up toxic chemicals, other hazardous waste, and mold.
    • Employees must be up-to-date with a tetanus shot (within the last 10 years).
    • Discarding water-damaged and visibly contaminated materials while wearing waterproof boots, latex or rubber gloves and other protective clothing.
    • Employers must consider using special chemical-resistant outer clothing and protective goggles in some cases depending on the hazard.
    • Issue N-95 NIOSH-approved disposable respirator, at a minimum, when handling mold-contaminated materials and this respirator requires medical evaluations and fit test prior to use.
    • Employers must keep an adequate supply of clean water available for drinking and washing.

Downed Power Lines

Burns and electrocution from contact with energized lines or objects, including tree limbs, in contact with downed power lines.

    • Establish and clearly mark a danger zone around all downed power lines
    • Stay at least 10 feet from all downed lines
    • Assume that all power lines are live or energized
    • Allow only trained and equipped workers to repair electrical wires

Tree Trimming and Debris Removal

Electrocution is not the only hazard as being struck or crushed by falling trees and limbs can cause severe injury or death.

Employers must:

    • Contact utility companies and request they de-energize and ground or shield power lines.
    • Require all tree trimming and removal with 10 feet of a power line must be performed by trained tree trimmers
    • Establish and clearly mark danger zones where tree debris may fall onto workers
    • Protect employees from injuries from equipment from lifting or moving tree limbs and other debris
    • Provide employees with work personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, hard hats, boots, hearing protection and eye/face protection. Chaps should be provided when using a chainsaw.
    • Train Employees on chainsaw’s require employees to watch for kickback and not cutting with the saw tip
    • Training on not getting to close to chippers as well as, not reaching into a chipper
    • Provide mechanical equipment to lift heavy objects or provide extra people and training in proper lifting techniques


Falls from aerial lifts, ladders, roofs and other elevated work surfaces can be hazards for employees. Slippery and uneven working surfaces that can create injuries due to slips.

Employers must provide the following protective measures:

    • Use safe procedures to prevent aerial lift tip-overs
    • Provide employees with body harness or restraint belt with a lanyard attached to the boom or basket of the lift
    • Use proper ladder safety (set on firm and stable ground, maintain “three-point” contact, do not stand on top rung)
    • Be aware of wet or slippery surfaces, obstacles, or uneven surfaces on the site

Portable Generators

Shocks and electrocution from gas and diesel powered generators, as well as toxic carbon monoxide (CO) from generator exhaust are hazards as disaster recovery sites. Fires from improper refueling and fuel storage are also problems.

Employers must:

    • Never run a portable generator inside a house or enclosed space
    • Inspect electric cords to ensure they are in good working condition and free of any defects
    • Use a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)
    • Ensure that spaces where generators are used are properly ventilated
    • Shut down the generator before refueling
    • Never store fuel or the generators indoors

Work Zones

Transportation incidents (injuries and deaths) in work zones where workers are struck by moving vehicles and mobile equipment.

Employers must use the following preventive measures:

    • Wear high-visibility clothing and headwear compliant with ANSI/ISEA 107-2004
    • Use proper traffic controls (Signs, cons, barriers)
    • Use proper lighting, flaggers, and worksite communications
    • Make sure that vehicle operators are properly trained
    • Always use seat belts and rollover protection


Construction Activities

Exposure to asbestos contaminated materials during the demolition of building and structures has a high probability at disaster sites. Spaces with limited access, suffocation hazards, or confined spaces can be confronted. Employees can be exposed to trenching and excavation accidents such as cave-ins. An employee is at risk for back, knee and shoulder injuries from manual lifting and handling of building materials and fallen trees.

Employers must:

    • Properly select and require the use of PPE which may include respiratory protection
    • Do not allow employees to enter permit-required confined spaces with training an a permit to enter
    • Prevent cave-ins by benching, sloping, shoring, or shielding the soil
    • Require the use of proper lifting techniques and teams of two or more to move bulky or heavy items