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Last edited 19 Dec 2020
Emergency plan for construction sites
Construction sites can be dangerous places, and should have an emergency plan so that quick and effective action can be taken in the event of a problem to ease the severity of the situation and to limit the consequences. An emergency plan comprises agreed, recorded and rehearsed strategies, enabling those on site to respond effectively and reliably.
Emergencies that may need to be planned for include (but are not limited to):
- Serious injuries.
- Chemical spill.
- Structural collapse.
- Terrorist activity.
The provision of an emergency plan is in accordance with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Emergency planning should begin before the commencement of any works on site. The initial emergency plan may be based on a generic plan adapted to the specific project. As the project progresses it will generally be necessary to amend the plan to take account of any changes, in particular, if an emergency or near miss has occurred.
- Site address.
- Date on which the emergency plan was prepared.
- Emergency personnel names and contact details.
- Evacuation routes.
- Types of emergencies.
 Hazard identification/assessment
- Proximity to traffic and public ways.
- On-site materials.
- Confined spaces.
- Plant circulation.
- Materials handling and hoisting.
- Environmental issues.
- Working in, or adjacent to, operating facilities.
- Working at height.
- Working at night or in reduced light.
Once the various hazards have been identified, the following needs to be assessed:
- What can go wrong?
- What are the possible consequences?
- What is the strategy for dealing with the consequences in an emergency situation?
The plan should also identify on-site resources such as fire extinguishers, spills containment equipment, first aid equipment, and so on. On-site first aiders and other medical staff should be identified.
This involves detailing the various communication systems that are in place to enable emergency services to be contacted without delay. This can be especially critical if the site is in an isolated area that is difficult to reach. Inclement weather may render communication systems ineffective, and the plan should make clear the contingency strategy if this is the case. On large sites, emergency phones can be provided.
 Emergency response procedure
- Stay calm.
- Assess the situation.
- Take command of the situation.
- Provide protection.
- Aid and manage.
- Maintain contacts.
- Guide the emergency services.
- With subcontractors so that it covers their activities.
- With suppliers so that is covers their materials/products.
- As new areas of the site are exposed to work activities.
- With the owner/client to ensure any site-specific hazards are accounted for.
- With health and safety inspectors who may visit the site.
Planning and preparation should also be made for action post-emergency, as simply returning to work may not be straight-forward. Professional counselling may be required for those suffering with post-traumatic stress. In addition, debriefing is necessary to identify how the emergency plan can be improved for the future.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Emergency services.
- Incident reporting system.
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
- Near miss.
- Reporting accidents and injuries on construction sites.
- Risk assessment.
- Risk management.
- Safety audit.
- Safety briefing.
- Safety management.
- Site records and registers.
- Toolbox talk.
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