Have an Emergency Action Plan
Absolutely one of the most critical things that businesses need to have are an emergency action plan, or EAP. Employees should learn it when they are first hired and then go through the necessary practice as frequently as needed to stay familiar with it – at the bare minimum that means annual office training.
What Should the EAP Include?
An EAP should consist of:
- methods for notifying employees in the event of an emergency
- reporting an emergency
- designated emergency evacuation routes and exits
- procedures for assisting workers and visitors with disabilities
- procedures to account for employees
- rescue and medical procedure
It is the employer’s responsibility to create this plan, but it’s up to everyone to understand and participate in the plan, making suggestions for improvement where able. The employees actively practicing the plan will see places for improvement or where the process could be streamlined or made safer.
Have a Fire System Installed
A part of that EAP is the methods for notifying employees in the case of an emergency, for specific discussion that means alerting them to the presence of a fire. The most obvious answer is a fire alarm system! Make sure your office is properly outfitted with fire alarm and suppression systems as needed and account for any potential hurdles in your individual workplace. Create a solution to this to ensure all employees are aware of the emergency, wherever they may be working when the alarm goes off. When you’re going through the regular training make sure to test the various alarms and go over what they mean and how they might change the emergency action plan.
The First Priority
When a fire hits, the absolute top priority for all employees is to immediately evacuate the business and go to the designated assembly point. The assembly point, and the designed evacuation routes need to be designated as a part of the EAP. As a part of this it’s crucial that the exits and routes to and through them are maintained in such a way that they are free and clear of any obstruction that could delay or hinder a safe evacuation.
Consider Your Employees and Visitors with Disabilities
An unfortunate piece of the EAP that some companies overlook is that they plan their EAP with only the able-bodied in mind and buildings are often built with some safety measures that can further hinder employees and visitors with disabilities from evacuating safely. For employees and visitors who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids they just lost their main method of going up and down the stories in a building.
In this event, employees and visitors with disabilities may need assistance in using the stairs. Don’t leave this to chance. In the EAP strictly designate an employee who will be responsible for assisting others.
When all the employees are thought to have been evacuated and made their way to the assembly point, the supervisor or designated employee needs to take account of who is there and their status. This will help speed the recovery or assistance of anyone who didn’t evacuate as well as give emergency responders useful, up-to-date information to follow up on.
First Aid Plans
And of course, no emergency action plan would be complete without something to account for potential injuries. The EAP should include medical/first aid responders – people in the office who will be responsible for addressing anyone who got hurt. First aid kits should be available inside the building as well as somewhere that is easily accessible to the assembly area where everyone will be gathering. Should 911 need to be called the EAP should designate who is to call and direct the responders to the location of the emergency.
With this plan in place, and drilling it until you know it like the back of your hand your work place will be in a much better spot in regards to office fire safety. But there is still more to be done. Look for Part 2 of the series coming soon! Let Richmond Alarm help you to make sure your business is following all local codes and regulations in regard to the testing and inspection of all Fire Alarm devices.