The actions taken in the initial minutes during an emergency are critical. A prompt warning to anyone else on the premises could save lives. The emergency procedure is a plan of actions to be conducted in a certain order or manner, in response to an emergency event.

Quick and effective action may help ease the situation and reduce the consequences. In emergencies, people are more likely to respond reliably if they:

  • are well trained and competent;
  • take part in regular and realistic practice; and
  • have clearly agreed, recorded and rehearsed plans, actions and responsibilities.

Complete an emergency plan if a major incident at your workplace could involve risks to the public, rescuing employees or coordinating emergency services. Where you share your workplace with another employer, consider whether your emergency plans and procedures need coordinating.

Examples of scenarios where emergency procedures would be required:

  • Fire
  • Electrical failure
  • Bomb threat
  • Suspicious package
  • Civil disorder
  • National emergency
  • Gas leak
  • Flood
  • Extreme weather events
  • Medical emergency
  • Chemical spillage or release
  • Elevator/lift entrapment

Key actions to establish emergency procedures

  • Think about carrying out a risk assessment before preparing a procedure, so you can work out how likely it is an emergency event might happen and, if it were to, how serious or damaging the consequences would be. The emergency procedure should provide an appropriate and proportionate response to the situation.
  • Consider what might happen and how the alarm will be raised. Don’t forget night and shift working, weekends and times when the premises are closed, e.g. holidays.
  • Plan what to do, including how to call the emergency services and how you can help them, e.g. by clearly marking your premises from the road.
  • Consider drawing up a simple plan, designed to assist the emergency services, showing the location of hazardous items.
    • If you have 25 tonnes or more of dangerous substances, you must notify the fire and rescue service and put up warning signs.
  • Agree on a safe place that people should aim to reach and/or to get rescue equipment.
  • Provide suitable forms of emergency lighting.
  • Make sure there are enough emergency exits for everyone to escape quickly, and keep emergency doors and escape routes unobstructed and clearly marked.
  • Nominate competent people to take control. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.
  • Decide which other key people you need, such as a nominated incident controller, someone who is able to provide technical and other site-specific information if necessary, or first aiders.
  • Plan essential actions, such as emergency plant shut down, isolation or making processes safe, and make sure important items like shut-off valves and electrical isolators, etc. are easily and clearly identifiable.
  • Train everyone in emergency procedures and don’t forget the needs of people with disabilities and vulnerable workers, such as new starters.
  • Don’t resume work after an emergency if a serious danger remains. If you have any doubts, ask for assistance from the emergency services.
  • Review the emergency plans periodically and keep them up to date.

Templates that may help with emergency procedures

Fire risk assessment

Assessment form

Fire risk checklist

Emergency procedures

Lighting test form

Guards and safety devices

Inspection form

Additional resources

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to some common queries about health and safety issues and related legislation.

Related topics

Emergency procedures need to be considered for the following risk topics and/or the issues presented by the hazards need to be considered when planning those procedures.