A must-read for every NSW business owner and property manager.
You never know when emergencies will strike. It could be a sudden fire in the building, a chemical leak in the basement, or an earthquake in the city. There are a multitude of instances that require a strong emergency plan, with building and property managers needing to be especially prepared in case such emergencies arise.
In Australia, the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations lays out a general emergency plan guideline for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs). PCBUs have the duty to create and maintain a working emergency plan for the whole workplace, including workers who work in multiple places and visitors/guests of the workplace.
What is an emergency plan?
An emergency plan is a set of rules that describe what employees, contractors and visitors of a workplace should do in an emergency. All emergency plans must include the following:
- Evacuation procedures
- Notification of emergency services
- Medical assistance and treatment
- Effective communication within the team
- A consistent dry-run of emergency procedures
- Training relevant workers on emergency procedures
Some of the types of emergencies people should plan for are
- Medical emergencies
- Natural disasters
- Armed confrontations
- Bomb threats
- Hazardous chemical accidents.
Emergency plans should be easy to digest and understand. The most important thing about an emergency plan is that everyone present in the building and grounds knows how to execute it properly. Doing this will make your reaction to an emergency much more effective and efficient.
10 Things you need to know about emergency plans
Being in charge of creating an emergency plan for your workplace involves creating safety signage, safety charts and safety maps; but, more than this, emergency plans require careful planning and consideration. Here are the top 10 things you should note when making an emergency plan for your workplace:
1. Recognise all stakeholders in emergencies.
Take note of every individual who will be onsite in an emergency, including every one of your employees, your contracted workers, your clients, your suppliers, or future business partners and create a plan for people with disabilities.
2. Set conditions for evacuations
Not all emergencies require you to immediately the building or property. Sometimes, the best strategy is to stay where you are.
In your emergency plan guidelines, you should indicate which types of emergencies require immediate evacuation (fire, gas leaks, earthquakes) and which ones would need you to stay put or stay hidden (armed confrontations, etc.). Once established, your people will automatically know which plan you will execute once an emergency arises.
3. Establish roles and responsibilities
It can get chaotic in times of emergency. There should be people tasked with organising everyone and leading them to remain calm in the middle of the chaos. Establish a chain of command and describe who should be in charge of directing evacuations, accounting for all employees, shutting down operations, or assisting those injured, giving clear roles to everyone will make your evacuation more organised and efficient.
4. Turn off critical operations and machinery when evacuating
The first thing on your mind during evacuation would probably be finding the fastest way out. However, you should allocate a person to be in charge of shutting down critical operations and machinery. For example, if you can, you should find time to turn off electricity or lock off gas sources during fire outbreaks. Otherwise, it could lead to greater problems.
5. Safeguard your data
Taking good care of your people is your top priority. However, you should also try to protect company data and IT. These are extremely vulnerable assets that could compromise the security of your company. Make sure to safeguard your data and do cloud back-ups to ensure that your business isn’t completely immobilised after your evacuation.
6. Account for visitors and employees after evacuating
Once you’ve evacuated your building, everybody should head to a secure location. Don’t let them go home yet – you need to make sure that everyone is accounted for.
Have an employee and visitor management system to check who enters or leaves the premises. Check the evacuees one by one to ensure that they’ve already evacuated, and only then should they be authorised to leave.
7. Prepare special equipment for emergencies
Some emergencies can be responded to better with specific equipment such as:
- Safety glasses or goggles
- Face shields
- Hard hats
- Fire extinguishers
- Fire blankets
- Special body protection outfits
Once acquired, these items should always be readily available and visible in case of emergencies.
8. Clearly mark emergency routes
You should have clear emergency routes when executing evacuations. Make sure they are clearly marked on your map and are identifiable in person. Evacuation routes should not have unnecessary aisle blockages, so you should make sure that those paths are always clean and organised.
9. Place safety signage on visible locations
Your workplace should have safety signage to mark important or hazardous areas. Place these signages visibly so that your employees would be able to see them easily. Easier recognition of those signs could make the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.
10. Customise your evacuation maps and safety signage
You should have custom design signages, custom evacuation diagrams, and custom evacuation maps when making an effective emergency plan. All of these elements placed on their proper positions will guide your people on where to go in times of evacuation.
Safety signage, emergency signage, evacuation diagrams, and evacuation maps should be customised, as all building are laid out differently. A custom map accurately describes the layout of your property, clearly showing the correct evacuation routes.
11. Distribute the plan and train all staff in emergency procedures
In addition to the things mentioned above, it is fundamental that emergency plans are not just listed down in a document and filed away, but distributed and explained to all relevant stakeholders. You should conduct training and simulations so that they’re prepared when the real thing happens.
Source evacuation maps and safety signage from Safety Maps
If you’re looking for a dependable partner in making visual solutions to your emergency plans, the team at Safety Maps would be happy to lend a hand. We have over 20 years of experience across different industries from hospitality and business to mining projects.
You can source your evacuation maps and signage from one of Australia’s most trusted safety signage companies by visiting us at safetymaps.com.au/, by contacting us at 02 8078 0302 or send an email to [email protected].