Hi there! We wanted to put together a brief summary of recommendations so you’re ready to evacuate your workplace (school, offices, industrial site etc.)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) guideline ‘How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations’ is a nice little guide that gives a useful overview on emergency planning. The section devoted to evacuations point out the following main points:
- Identify what potential emergencies would require an evacuation. This may include brainstorming worst case scenarios.
- Establish a preferred method for reporting emergencies. Alarms must be distinctive and recognised by all employees (including disabled workers) as a signal to evacuate the work area or perform actions identified in your plan. Note that alarms must be able to be heard, seen or otherwise perceived by everyone in the workplace. It’s good practice to also consider the case where electricity is shut off!!
- Make available an emergency communications system such as a public address system, portable radio unit or other means to notify employees of the emergency and to contact local law enforcement, the fire department or others.
- Make evacuation safe: designate safe routes, determine the need to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), designate safe assembly areas (avoiding interference with emergency response teams) and refuges
- Decide who (if anybody) needs to stay behind for critical operations. These employees need to be capable of recognising when to abandon the operation and evacuate themselves. Develop procedures for these personnel to perform critical plant operations or shutdown plant when required.
- Assign roles, including one or more coordinator and evacuation wardens (recommended at least one for every 20 site occupants)
- Develop procedures (e.g. roll call) to account for all site occupants (employees and non-employees) following an evacuation. Include identifying the names and last known location of anyone not accounted for. This information will be notified to emergency personnel. Bear in mind inaccuracies in the roll call process can lead to delays in rescuing anyone trapped in a building or unnecessary and dangerous search-and-rescue operation,
- Consider the potential need to evacuate further in case the incident expands. This may consist of sending employees home by normal means or providing them with transportation to an offsite location.
I like to think that our evacuation app does tick some of the boxes required by the OSHA, however you have to make the call. Why not try it? It’s free!
If your workplace is a high-rise building, I recommend you check OSHA’s fact sheet ‘Evacuating High Rise Buildings’.