Fires, floods and earthquakes can strike at any time and when they do, can have devastating consequences. Whatever type of disaster occurs, every Australian business is responsible for making its worksite as safe as possible for everyone.
The only real way to prepare an evacuation plan is to expect the unexpected and prepare for just about anything. These are some general guides for getting your evacuation plans up to date.
Everyone needs to understand emergency evacuation procedures easily, so keep them as simple as possible.
To begin, pick one type of emergency and use it to make your basic evacuation plans. Internal fire is one of the most common disasters, so is a good one to choose. Designate your assembly areas at a safe distance away, such as on the other side of your road or in the car park.
After you formulate your internal fire plan, broaden it to include other possibilities, such as floods, bushfires, earthquakes and cyclones. Remember to think beyond your own building. Who are your neighbours? What types of threats might their operations provide?
Your plans will differ according to the type of emergency. For an external event such as a bushfire or a flood, you need a set of procedures where evacuating might be the last, rather than the first resort. For an internal chemicals leak, include emergency treatment procedures for both indoors and outdoors. Remember to include unnatural disasters such as bombing or armed confrontation.
The next thing you need to do is assign responsibilities to key people. This applies whether you operate a small, single-room business or a huge factory.
Choose reliable people to be emergency evacuation wardens and provide them with warden sticker for their hard hat, so that workers can quickly identify them. Ensure one or more wardens are always available on duty. For a large operation, designate wardens within each major division.
Create a site map that clearly shows all emergency exits and assembly points and place it in key locations around your buildings.
Display relevant emergency contacts, such as police, ambulance, fire brigade and SES in prominent places throughout the building and keep the numbers up to date.
Practicing an organised evacuation might one day save lives, so it is important to run through the drill. Conduct evacuation drills frequently, as often as every two weeks, and make evacuation training an essential part of all new staff inductions.
Wardens are responsible for marshalling everyone out of the building. They must make sure nobody stays behind or uses lifts, and do so in a calm and orderly way. When everyone is outside, the wardens conduct a roll call. In a real emergency, the warden closest to the source of the emergency makes initial calls to the correct emergency services and sounds the alarms. Designate one senior warden to be responsible for shutting down power, if required.