What is it important to have an evacuation plan in place?

The need for an emergency evacuation can occur at any time. There are numerous types of events that can instigate an evacuation, some include weather related events such as hurricanes, floods, and fires, or human caused emergency situations involving civil disturbances, chemical spills, and explosions. Unplanned events like these do not allow time for employees to make mistakes, which is why having an evacuation plan in place from the beginning is the best kind of preparation one can have for these sudden and disastrous events.

Having an evacuation plan will not only provide employees with the best possible tools for getting out of the building safely, but they will also be able to do it in a calm manner. Being calm in these situations is especially important because it will help prevent disorganization and panic. All of that is only achievable if everything that is needed for an evacuation plan is within reach of employees. This means the employer must provide things such as:

  • Designated evacuation wardens and team leaders to make sure everyone is safely out of the building
  • Practice drills to prepare for the real event
  • An established emergency evacuation route and assembly area
  • Applicable training for employees whether that be shutting down equipment, first aid, or knowing how to use emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers.
  • Evacuation maps
  • Visual communication such as signs, labels, and floor tape to mark pathways and emergency equipment in the event of an evacuation

These are all good things to have for preparing employees for these instances. Aside from the goal of keeping employees safe, it is a good idea to have an emergency evacuation plan because OSHA has the power to cite businesses that do not have one in place. Emergency evacuation plans are required by law and function as a safeguard against preventable accidents of which can end up costing the company even more money in legal fees.

Regardless of whether or not an employer decides to create an evacuation plan, they must remember that it saves them money in the long run, and more importantly, saves the lives of their employees in the event an emergency evacuation must take place.

 

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