Voice Paging Systems Complete Federal Requirements for Business
- Best completes requirement of Department of Homeland Security checklist for an “emergency alert system.”
- Best completes requirement of OSHA section 1910.165 for an “employee alarm system” for organizations with 10+ employees.
www.ready.gov recommends an Emergency Alert System
The Department of Homeland Security industry experts agree that nothing short of a well designed voice paging system complies with OSHA and Homeland security guidelines for an “Alert System.”
What test do I need to perform to abide by OSHA?
Overhead paging = test every two months. Overhead paging is “unsupervised” in that a break in an amplifier or speaker can go undetected until you try to use it.
Telephone set based paging = tested every year. Telephone sets are a “supervised system” in that failures to a telephone set are easily detected in the course of normal use.
OSHA states 10+ employee groups required to have voice paging!
www.osha.gov states employers with 10 or more employees are required to have an employee alarm system with power backup to insure a fully operational status. A digital telephone system with voice paging feature best accomplishes this requirement.
What office systems may fail OSHA requirements (1910.165)?
- Many voice over IP systems can’t ALL PAGE reliably due to the required network bandwidth. Cisco’s limit* is 10 phones.
- Windows based systems such as Altigen that use analog phones have no phone set page capability. The phones can only ring.
- Any alerting system that does not have reasonable power backup, as many emergencies occur with power loss. A violent storm is one example.
- Systems are not tested periodically per OSHA guidelines. Page capable telephones are “supervised” as you can detect a broken phone through normal use. “Non-supervised” systems such as overhead paging systems must be tested every 2 months.
Emergency action plans from www.osha.gov. (search on section 1910.165)
- 1910.38(c) -An employer must have and maintain an employee alarm system. The employee alarm system must use a distinctive signal for each purpose and comply with the requirements in 1910.165.
- 1910.165 (b) (3)-The employee alarm shall be distinctive and recognizable as a signal to evacuate the work area or to perform actions designated under the emergency action plan.
- 1910.165 (b) (4)-The employer shall explain to each employee the preferred means of reporting emergencies, such as manual pull box alarms, public address systems, radio or telephones. The employer shall post emergency telephone numbers near telephones, or employee notice boards, and other conspicuous locations when telephones serve as a means of reporting emergencies. Where a communication system also serves as the employee alarm system, all emergency messages shall have priority over all non-emergency messages.
- 1910.165 (b) (5)-The employer shall establish procedures for sounding emergency alarms in the workplace. For those employers with 10 or fewer employees in a particular workplace, direct voice communication is an acceptable procedure for sounding the alarm provided all employees can hear the alarm. Such workplaces need not have a back-up system.
- 1910.165 (d) (2)-The employer shall assure that a test of the reliability and adequacy of non-supervised employee alarm systems is made every two months. A different actuation device shall be used in each test of a multi-actuation device system so that no individual device is used for two consecutive tests.
- 1910.165 (d) (3)-The employer shall maintain or replace power supplies as often as is necessary to assure a fully operational condition. Back-up means of alarm, such as employee runners or telephones, shall be provided when systems are out of service.
How does OSHA enforce the Employee Alarm System standards?
Any business facility can be inspected at any time to ensure compliance with Federal Safety Regulations. OSHA and/or State Officials employ approximately 2,380 agents to enforce these rules and regulations. At last count, there were over 6.5 million business facilities (approximately ½ of the buildings in the US) that had been inspected by these agencies.
* VoIP systems that page to every phone may require as much as 100kbps per phone. Cisco specifically has a limit of 10 phones unless multicast technology is used. Check your vendor for disclaimers or required special configurations.