“Temporary but rapid removal of people from building or disaster (or threatened) area as a rescue or precautionary measure.”
“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.Employers will want their employees to respond differently to these different threats. For example, employers may want to have employees assemble in one area inside the workplace if threatened by a tornado or perhaps a chemical spill on an adjacent highway, but evacuate to an exterior location during a fire. Your plan must identify when and how employees are to respond to different types of emergencies. Ask yourself questions and brainstorm worst-case scenarios. What would happen if the storeroom caught fire, the river flooded, or a chemical release occurred in the shop?
The type of building you work in may be a factor in your decision. Most buildings are vulnerable to the effects of disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, or explosions. The extent of the damage depends on the type of emergency and the building’s construction. Modern factories and office buildings, for example, are framed in steel and are probably structurally sounder than neighborhood business premises may be. In a disaster such as a major earthquake or explosion, however, nearly every type of structure will be affected. Some buildings will collapse and others will be left with weakened floors and walls.
Most employers create maps from floor diagrams with arrows that designate the exit route assignments. These maps should include locations of exits, assembly points, and equipment (such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and spill kits) that may be needed in an emergency. Exit routes should be:
- Clearly marked and well lit.
- Wide enough to accommodate the number of evacuating personnel.
- Unobstructed and clear of debris at all times.
- Unlikely to expose evacuating personnel to additional hazards.
“Emergencies can develop very rapidly. According to HSE, UK, the following points will be helpful during evacuation:
· Plan escape routes and make sure that at all times they remain available and unobstructed.
- Consider signs for people unfamiliar with escape routes.
- Light all escape routes sufficiently for people to use them safely in an emergency.
- Use an independent power source, e.g., a generator, in case the mains electricity supply fails.
- If using floodlighting, lighting towers, etc., as temporary lighting make sure it does not shine in people’s faces along the escape route, making it more difficult for them. As an alternative, ‘festoon lighting’ along an escape route prevents glare.
- Plan how, where necessary, you will evacuate people to a place of relative safety from where they can proceed to a place of total safety.
- Plan to provide additional assistance to people with a disability, those with limited mobility and children.
- Where children are separated from their parents, as in crèches, play areas, etc., make arrangements for their safe evacuation clear so that parents don’t try to reach them against the normal direction of escape.
- All doors and gates leading to final exits, as well as site exits themselves, should be available for immediate use at all times. Check they are:
- unlocked – if security is an issue they should be staffed not locked.
- free from obstructions.
- open outwards in the direction of escape.