OSHA does not require fire drills to be implemented at work, however they are highly encouraged and recommended. Even though fire drills may not be required by OSHA, they may well still be required by the state, local jurisdictions, or insurance providers to make sure there’s a safe evacuation plan for the building’s occupants.
The frequency at which companies should perform fire drills depends on what kind of materials the building holds and how severe of a fire hazard they are. The minimum recommended amount of drills is once every three months, however, some businesses do more, and some do less depending on the local fire laws.
Aside from frequency and rules, there are plenty of reasons why fire drills should be implemented in the normal regimen of the company. The main three goals are as follows:
- It gives employees the chance to practice emergency procedures in an environment that is safe.
- It helps the employer to have a grasp on whether or not the employees can successfully carry out the emergency procedure.
- It also helps determine if the evacuation plan needs to be changed to improve safety and efficiency.
Another thing to think about is whether the practice fire drill should be announced or unannounced; there are positives that come with either decision. For example, if the drill is announced, then the employees will be able to absorb new information better if the protocol has changed in any way. They will also be able to complete the fire drill correctly rather than create bad habits by rushing through and missing information.
On the other hand, if the employees are not warned of a fire drill, the employer and the fire marshals will be able to observe how well the employees react to an “emergency” that they believe is real. Based off of this, the people in charge of creating an evacuation plan can determine if anything needs to be changed to make the process more efficient.
Overall, if fire drills are completed regularly, then the employees will be more comfortable in an actual emergency situation. They will ultimately be able to get out safely just as the drill taught them since practice should always imitate real life.
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