What is an emergency evacuation plan?

An emergency evacuation plan aims to prepare employees with information that enables them to evacuate a building as quickly and safely as possible. These plans must cover all relevant scenarios of possible emergencies for employees to be sufficiently prepared. Emergency situations can include anything from natural disasters, industrial accidents, transportation accidents, military attacks, structural failure, or fires.

Each and every business will have a different evacuation plan due to the various hazards that may present themselves in specific work environments. If there are more than ten employees within a business, OSHA requires the evacuation plan to be in written form. The plan should include everything from alarm system specifications to emergency evacuation routes, and required employee training, as some examples.

Emergency Drills

Emergency evacuation plans are always strengthened with the use of emergency evacuation drills. It is recommended that emergency drills, such as fire drills, be repeated every three months to keep employees up to date on proper emergency plan procedures. If the risk of an emergency occurring is low, then every six months should be sufficient enough for practice.

The reason why emergency drills are essential to an evacuation plan is because they provide real time training opportunities for employees. Employers are able to take a look at what needs to be improved within the plan to make the evacuation process go smoother. This can be done by either planning and alerting employees of an upcoming drill to practice something new, or to surprise employees to observe their reaction when they believe that the situation is real. Both offer great opportunities for continuous improvement regarding an evacuation plan.

Overall, evacuation plans exist to provide some amount of preparation in the event of an emergency. Without this plan, evacuations can be disorderly and ultimately result in more injuries and even death.


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