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Emergency Evacuation Procedure in the Workplace – Safety

by Ken
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Some of this information concerning evacuation procedure is contained in other articles published by STG Fire Safety Training. Because of its importance, we focus on the pragmatic details of establishing and implementing an emergency evacuation procedure. We should all be prepared for the potential for a tragic event at a worksite. It is the legislated responsibility of the owner-operator of a business or undertaking to have in place an emergency response plan that complies with the appropriate health and safety legislation. The emergency planning committee is responsible for creating emergency plans and should hire all parties that use or implement the plan in an emergency to assist in its development. The evacuation plan must be held and updated every 12 months, or under AS 3745-2010.

What should the emergency evacuation procedure and plan cover?

The plan should identify potential emergencies and how to address them. It should identify where existing emergency response facilities are located and that the Emergency Control Organisation’s – the Chief and fire wardens – training requirements, even though they will have more training than ordinary tenants. Induction and face-to-face training and emergency evacuation procedure for occupants must be kept up to date.

Other key components include, but are not limited to, fire protection requirements and alarm and first aid measures. Emergency evacuation procedure and information should be provided to all occupants, and one or more designated workers should be trained and authorised to perform rescue operations. The emergency plan must contain assembly places and one or more muster points — provisions for partial evacuation or transitory assembly areas for large buildings. Everyone, from fire wardens to general tenants, must receive frequent training in appropriate circumstances. They must be aware of what their duties are in an emergency.

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First on the scene must assess the situation. They should alert others by sounding alarms and making enough noise to draw attention and start the process of evacuation. One should contact emergency services at a suitable time. This task may be performed by a designated person or the worker who actually observed the emergency.

Call the fire department if the emergency requires their response.

Ambulance response should be contacted for resuscitation or other medical emergencies. In larger cities in Australia, when reporting a medical emergency, the fire brigade might be the first service on the scene due to their advanced first aid skills. Even so, the emergency control center will still dispatch an ambulance. In rural areas, a fire truck may not be provided. Where there is uncontrolled violence or a potential or proven threat from armed offenders, police response is necessary. In such cases, fire wardens may decide that the safest option is to stay in place.

Other essential factors include power and gas companies responding to assist in returning operations to normal.

The factor which reduces response times includes having an employee or designated person meet the emergency services at the main entry point. This helps direct them to the scene and allows them to prepare for the situation appropriately.

Control over the media is essential

If ignored, the media will generally find a way to obtain information, making it difficult for responders. You will notice in evening news segments that emergency services generally assign a suited and collared person to speak with the media.

Identify the situation when contacting any outside organization and request the needed assistance. Good leadership enhances the response capabilities of fire wardens and emergency services.

It is safe to extinguish a fire if applicable, shut off the main gas supply if necessary, and turn off the main electrical breaker. Then, close all fire doors if possible and evacuate buildings on-site. Designated fire wardens should ensure that everyone has evacuated.

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Actions all workers can perform: When you hear an alarm or siren, shut down all work activities and equipment if safe to do so. Then proceed on foot to the assembly area. Do not drive to the assembly area.


Flammable liquid or combustible vapour will fiercely spread; vehicles may become a source of ignition. If the evacuation occurs while you are driving, you must pull over, turn off the vehicle engine, and apply the parking brakes. Keys must also be accessible, and depending on the worksites, you may leave keys behind in the vehicle.

The assembly areas are predefined and marked. Some worksites have a windsock that will help understand where the wind is blowing. If it occurs during a gas leak, the wind direction will help determine where the workers must assemble. You may also check with another worker using equipment like flags or even the smoke from factory chimneys.

Raising the alarm:

An escalating emergency was occurring. When working in a large building or large industrial environment, ensure you find the main exits. Remember that lifts cannot be used and are very unreliable. Even firefighters do not use lifts unless they have no option. If a person with disabilities is unable to leave a multilevel building, isolated stairs will offer ways to keep safe until emergency services can assist.

Do you hear an alarm?

If the emergency is far from you, you don’t know how big or small it is: take all alarms seriously and don’t smoke or create another hazard while waiting. It is your responsibility to take a headcount in the nominated assembly area, so you must follow your organization’s log-on procedures. Also, sign off when you leave; it would be very irresponsible for emergency agencies to put lives at great risk searching for your whereabouts.

A chief fire warden or other fire warden must receive the OK to reenter from emergency services before you can return to work. It is your responsibility to stay informed. If you don’t know, please ask your supervisor to show you where the first aid kit/office or assembly area is.

In conclusion

we all have a responsibility in a work situation to keep ourselves and others safe. Every business owner has extra responsibilities, thus a much higher level of accountability. By following these measures correctly, your safety, as well as that of your friends and work colleagues, is prioritized.

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