The first moments after an emergency are crucial. You might only have minutes or even seconds to act and make life-changing decisions. Whether it be harsh weather conditions, fire hazards, or security threats, having an emergency action plan and knowing the evacuation plan requirements when needed helps you be prepared so you can avoid fatalities and save lives.
Evacuation Plan Requirement #1 – Evaluating the situation
Not all emergencies require an evacuation, and some can go differently than others based on the situation. According to OSHA’s Evacuation Plans and Procedures, “a wide variety of emergencies both man-made and natural, may require a workplace to be evacuated. These emergencies include – fires, explosions, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, toxic material releases, radiological and biological accidents, civil disturbances, and workplace violence.”
Different scenarios require different responses. That’s why it’s essential to assess the situation first so you can determine the next steps and respond accordingly. This is important to make sure you don’t cause any unnecessary panic or alarm.
Evacuation Plan Requirement #2 – Conducting training and drills
Having an evacuation plan alone isn’t enough as workers should also know how to execute it when the time comes that it’s needed. By conducting training, you can make them familiar with the routes and strategies when evacuating in different situations. Afterward, you can hold drills for the workers to give them a feel of what happens in an emergency situation. This ensures
EdApp is an award-winning learning solution and training software that’s the perfect tool to conduct your drills and training. It has a free course library that you can edit and customize as you see fit thanks to its user-friendly authoring tool. Here, you can include your building’s floor plans, routes, and layout so learners can always have this information with them. With pre-made emergency evacuation training courses like Evacuation Plan and Fire Safety, you can easily roll out training and include your company’s plans at no cost. They can be accessed on any device, whether it be a computer, tablet, or smartphone, so learners don’t have to be tied down to their desks just to complete training.
To test what they’ve learned, EdApp also has an exam creator called Rapid Refresh wherein all you need to do is fill out a spreadsheet with your questions and answers. It will then be automatically transformed into an aesthetically-designed quiz, complete with automatic grading and analytics.
Evacuation Plan Requirement #3 – Assisting people during evacuation
While training helps people know what to do in case of emergencies, it’s helpful to have assigned people who can help the move go smoothly. This is also especially needed for people with disabilities who require more assistance and visitors who aren’t familiar with your floor plans and routes. Part of your evacuation plan should include designated individuals who can guide people calmly and safely out of the building.
Evacuation Plan Requirement #4 – Knowing your structure and surroundings
Familiarizing yourself with the building layout, such as the routes, entrances, and exits, helps you prepare for evacuation and makes ground movement run smoothly. Make sure that these pathways are clearly marked and easy to follow. They should also be clear of obstructions and spacious enough to accommodate the anticipated number of people. An alarm system should also be in place to easily notify everyone of any emergency.
Not all buildings are built the same way and have different materials, numbers of floors, and construction methods. Knowing the materials used in the building and its integrity will come in handy as some can be more vulnerable than others, especially to fires and other natural disasters. The number of floors will also make a difference, as it can be more difficult to evacuate people from a high-rise building compared to a low-rise one.
Once people are evacuated, it’s also crucial to be aware of the surroundings of your building and determine a safe place where people can assemble afterward.
Evacuation Plan Requirement #5 – Accounting for the people onsite
After evacuation, it’s important to account for who was on the building premises, which also includes any visitors. As more companies also adopt a hybrid working arrangement, it may be harder to monitor who is in the building on any given day. Having a visitor management system to keep track of those who are present is a good technology that you can invest in to make things easier and automate this process.
Once everyone is on the assembly grounds, immediately do a headcount and get their information. It’s also important to determine if any individual needs medical attention so they can be attended to immediately.
Evacuation Plan Requirement #6 – Contacting emergency and rescue services
Calling an emergency assistance hotline like 911 should be used to get external help and mitigate the situation. Relying on people who are trained and equipped to conduct rescues and perform medical procedures is important to avoid any further injuries or hazards. Whoever is assigned to contact emergency services should have information ready as part of your evacuation plan requirements, such as the address of the location and a thorough description of the situation to get the appropriate teams and resources needed. Some companies use internal numbers for intercom systems so that coded announcements may be made. Other companies have employees activate manual pull stations or other alarm systems.
Evacuation Plan Requirement #7 – Ensuring accessibility to safety equipment and supplies
To facilitate a safe evacuation, personnel may have to use personal protective equipment, such as safety gloves, goggles, hard hats, and more. It’s important that employees know where they can be found and are easily accessible when needed. It’s also essential to stock up on resources such as first aid kits, respirators, and fire extinguishers, which can be used to help control the situation and provide basic medical care before responders arrive.
Evacuation Plan Requirement #8 – Shutting down critical operations
For places such as manufacturing plants, the shutdown of plant operations or critical machines may be required. In these situations, you should have an assigned person or team who will take care of this responsibility and are well-trained and equipped to handle the task. While this is a crucial task to take, it’s important that individuals assigned are aware of when to flee and evacuate for their safety. By including this in your evacuation plan requirements, you can avoid further casualties or damages in your building and vicinity.
Evacuation Plan Requirement #9 – Communicating emergencies
In emergency situations, communication is definitely the key to informing everyone of the situation. Alarm systems should be familiar to employees and communication through speaker systems should be clear. The main things to focus on are taking advantage of the systems and tools that are already available to you, as well as ensuring you have a communication platform that can keep everyone informed. Making the most of technology such as communication platforms to keep everyone safe can help not only those in the building but also those who might be coming in when an emergency happens.
Evacuation Plan Requirement #10 – Reviewing your emergency action plan
During emergencies, plans must be flexible enough to meet the changes that occur at buildings and worksites. This is why it’s a good idea to review your plan regularly as part of your evacuation plan requirements, so you can stay on top of changes and adjustments. Make sure that signages are clear, you’re well-stocked on supplies, and that pathways are safe. While you hope to never have to put your plan into action, you want to feel confident that it will perform exactly as expected.