Workplace Emergency Planning Committee (EPC) establishment and development

Workplace Emergency Planning Committee (EPC)

What is an EPC and what are they used for?

Every workplace requires an EPC as per AS3745 2010. When managed well, an EPC is a brilliant vehicle for workplace emergency planning and post-incident review.  When managed poorly, it can become an insignificant forum where little positive change originates.

The objectives of a workplace EPC should include:

  1. Oversee the workplace emergency plan, and ensure emergency procedures are accurate, contemporary, and tested

  2. Engage with the rest of the workgroup, and assist in disseminating the emergency procedures and safety messages

  3. Ensure consistency in emergency planning across multiple workplaces, where an organization has more than one workplace

The EPC can foster the collective interest of the workplace in emergency management and ensure it stays front of mind for business managers and the workgroup. An EPC assists with an employer’s obligation to consult the workgroup in relation to workplace safety matters under state WHS regulations. PRM has enacted several EPCs for Government and private organisations alike. From our experience, here are some examples of success, and some points to avoid when developing a workplace EPC.

Do these:
  1. Ensure you have qualified people on the EPC, who have experience in emergency management.

  2. Ensure both management and workgroup members are represented on the committee. There is no point in having all managers or all workers when both are required to implement positive change

  3. Ensure people are trained to perform on the committee and have a clear understanding of the standards and regulations that pertain to the workplace emergency plan

  4. Let the workplace know you exist. Release a communication outlining what the group will achieve, why they have been formed, and how you as an employee can reach the group for suggestions

  5. Develop terms of reference and pre-determined meeting agendas to ensure the group is focused, and stay accountable to each other to ensure action items are acted upon

  6. Meet at least quarterly initially, and let the workgroup know where and when

  7. Have a trigger in place that will convene the EPC post a near miss, actual emergency, or the potential for an emergency to occur

  8. Engage the EPC when critical factors arise which may lead to an emergency in the near future. This could be weather, change in business, publicized threat, change in a neighbors business, or risk profile

  9. If the organization has multiple venues, move the meeting venue to different workplace locations, and use the collective knowledge of the group to address localised emergency matters

  10. Enquire if a rebate is available with workplace insurances owing to the existence of the EPC and a functional Warden structure

Don’t do this:
  1. Don’t meet just for meetings’ sake. Have a positive agenda in mind and stick to it

  2. Don’t allow the EPC to become politicized or be driven in a negative direction

  3. Don’t meet in secret. Allow workplace members to come along to meetings and see what the EPC does

  4. Change chairpersons annually and don’t allow the EPC to be ‘owned’ by one dominant person

  5. Have a committee without people who are trained to act in the position. Engage outside expert counsel if required to ensure ideas and concepts regarding emergency management are accurate and contemporary. Everyone has an idea about workplace emergency management, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily accurate and in keeping with standards and regulations.

PRM has built and maintained workplace EPCs for some of Australia’s largest organisations.

Contact for further information or call 1800 304 944

Aaron Gormly

Business Manager & Emergency Management Consultant

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