March 4, 2020

Evacuation Procedures for Employees Needing Assistance

Department of Energy Order 151.1D, Comprehensive Emergency Management System, requires Department officials to develop and participate in an integrated and comprehensive emergency management program.  The Order requires that all facilities and equipment be adequate to support an emergency response, including the capability to notify employees of an emergency and to facilitate their safe evacuation from work areas.  Emergency management officials at each facility are responsible for maintaining a documented emergency management program. 

The Department has established Occupant Emergency Plans (OEP) and procedures to ensure the safety and security of its employees and visitors during an emergency at its facilities.  The Department’s Office of Management oversees the development of the OEP for Department employees located at its Headquarters facility in the James V. Forrestal Building (Forrestal), which includes specific roles and responsibilities assigned to Program Offices.  Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Security and Safety provides this oversight for employees located in its Headquarters facility, also located in Washington, DC.  We initiated this inspection to determine whether the Department had plans in place at its Forrestal and FERC Headquarters facilities to accommodate employees needing assistance during an emergency evacuation.

Although the Department had an updated plan in place to accommodate employees needing assistance at Forrestal, some supervisors and employees were not fully aware of their roles and responsibilities during an emergency evacuation.  Further, we determined that FERC’s OEP was outdated and did not reflect the current plan that was in place.  During the course of our inspection, FERC’s OEP was updated to reflect current evacuation procedures and identify the roles and responsibilities of key personnel.  Additionally, evacuation drills indicated that FERC could evacuate employees needing assistance from its facility.  As such, we did not make any recommendations regarding FERC’s OEP.  To improve the safe evacuation of employees needing assistance in an emergency at Forrestal, we made one recommendation for the Department to enhance and improve its awareness programs to ensure that employees and supervisors are aware of their responsibilities during an emergency evacuation.  Management concurred with the report’s recommendation.  Its corrective actions, taken and planned, are responsive to the recommendation.

Topic: Management & Administration