Emergency Response

New!  OSHA has published a proposed rule on Emergency Response to replace the existing Fire Brigades Standard (29 CFR 1910.156). OSHA states that the new standard would address a broader scope of emergency responders and would include programmatic elements to protect emergency responders from a variety of occupational hazards. The public comment period is currently open and interested parties are encouraged to submit comments to OSHA regarding this proposed rule through June 21, 2024. Additionally, OSHA plans to host a public hearing at a future date to be determined. Please reference the NCDOL Standards Information and Activity page for more information on federal rule adoption in NC and OSHA’s Emergency Response Rulemaking page for additional information on this proposed rule.

Emergency Response

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What are the hazards associated with emergency response?

The duties of an emergency responder may require making life and death decisions. The typical workday of an emergency responder can include tasks ranging from responding to a minor medical emergency to a more serious incident such as an uncontrolled release of a hazardous substance or a multibuilding fire. In performing their duties, emergency responders face numerous safety and health hazards which may lead to injury, illness, and death.

Preparing before an emergency incident plays a vital role in ensuring that employers and workers have the necessary equipment, know where to go, and know how to keep themselves safe when an emergency occurs. 

What can I do to protect myself?

Employees should never attempt to respond to an emergency situation unless they have received the appropriate training and are equipped to respond to the incident. 

What resources are available to assist employers?

Safety and Health Programs

A hazardous chemical emergency response plan hazard communication program, respirator program, bloodborne pathogens exposure control plan and PPE hazard assessment can be downloaded and customized to fit an individual workplace. Other example safety and health programs are available for employers to download and adapt to their specific conditions. 

Training and Outreach Services

Presentations on bloodborne pathogens,  hazard communication, respiratory protection and personal protective equipment can be used for employee training. Other example presentations are available along with pre-recorded webinars which can be accessed at any time. 

In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.

Further, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including a streaming video service) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).

Safety and Health Topics

Related resources can be found on the safety and health topic pages for hazardous waste operations and emergency response, respiratory protection, personal protective equipment, hazard communication, hazardous chemicals right to know, fire brigades and bloodborne pathogens.

Consultation Services

The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.

Which standards apply to emergency response?

OSH has adopted the following standards related to emergency response in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic.

General Industry


State-specific Standard

North Carolina General Statute

N.C. General Statutes 95-173 through 95-218 - identification of toxic or hazardous substances

Other Applicable Standards

The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

Where can I learn more?

Industry Guides

Compliance Documents

Technical Assistance

Inquiries about workplace safety and health requirements can be submitted to Ask OSH through the online form, by email to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov, or by phone at 919-707-7876.