When you own a building, you are taking on the responsibility of ensuring that every single person who walks through your door is safe from any potential emergency, whether it be something major such as a tornado, or something minor like a power outage resulting in a stuck elevator. That’s why it is so crucial that if you are in commercial real estate, you have a well-designed Emergency Action Plan (EAP) that is accessible no matter where you are and furthermore, you HAVE to have one. If you don’t have an EAP there can be major legal implications.

 

Minimum Requirements:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that if a company has 10 or more employees, an EAP must be written down. If you have less than 10 employees, you can communicate the EAP orally, although it is still a good idea to have it recorded there would be no legal implications if you chose not to.

An EAP is legally required to have the following at minimum by OSHA:

  • Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments
  • A way to report fires and other emergencies
  • Procedures for employees who must remain to operate critical plant operations prior to evacuation
  • Accounting for all employees/tenants
  • Rescue and medical duties for employees performing them
  • Names or job titles of people who can be contacted

 

Annual Updates:

Just like you update your insurance policy each year, you need to update EAP as well. Due to the real estate industry continuously evolving, it is unlikely that a building will not undergo any changes over the course of a year. There are always new tenants and at the minimum, minor structural changes. Changes like these affect the floor plans and the emergency action plans. If the fire department shows up to discover major changes not added to the EAP, then the building will be issued a violation.

 

Legal Implications:

As a property manager, it is important to make sure that you closely follow all rules and regulations required by OSHA as well as your local laws and regulations when it comes to emergency preparedness, floor plans, and fire safety. If it is discovered that your building is not compliant with the current regulations, then you will be under violation which can result in being fined. If there is an emergency and it is discovered that you have not adequately prepared your tenants and employees, then you run the risk of being sued. Remember, it’s always best to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared.

Click here to download Preparis’ 7 Steps to Preparedness checklist. Following these simple steps can improve your building’s EAP (and reduce liability.)

 

Preparis and Preparedness:

At Preparis, we work with many major commercial real estate companies such as Cushman & Wakefield, Behringer, Lincoln Property Company, and USAA Real Estate Company to keep them prepared for any potential emergency. We ensure that your building is compliant with OSHA and local regulations using a cost effective approach to be sure that you are ready for any emergency. 

To learn more about liability in the commercial real estate industry, please join us for our upcoming webinar, “CRE Liability: What Are You REALLY Liable For?” Click here to register today!

 

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