Evacuation plans are essential for your small business as you protect your staff, customers and visitors. Consider seven factors as you plan your evacuations. With this checklist, everyone can exit peacefully and safely.
- List Conditions that may Force an Evacuation
Weather, fire, terrorism, toxic material release, workplace violence, civil disturbances and other conditions may force you to evacuate your business. When you make a list of conditions that could affect you, you can prepare comprehensive evacuation plans. For example, your evacuation strategy may include staying indoors during a civil disturbance, but you’ll want to go outside if a fire breaks out.
- Create a Clear Chain of Command
Chaos will rule if you have several people in charge of an evacuation. Create a clear chain of command when you assign wardens. Ideally, you’ll have one warden per 20 people, and you’ll assign one warden to be in charge as the highest-ranking responder. He or she will assume command, make the call to evacuate and report to the onsite emergency coordinator.
- Post Specific Evacuation Procedures
Every employee should know the evacuation procedure from anywhere in the building. A floor diagram map will designate exit routes, mark emergency equipment locations and direct staff to the assembly location. Additionally, exits must be clearly marked, well lit, wide enough accommodate employees and unobstructed at all times.
- Plan for Visitors
If you welcome customers, clients or other visitors into your building, you must make sure they can get out safely during an emergency. Assign one person in each department to assist visitors. Also, make sure that visitors with special needs or disabilities can exit safely.
- Designate the Last Employees Out
The department wardens will usually take on the role of last employees out. They shut down critical operations and know how to turn off the electricity or gas. They also check office spaces, bathrooms and other areas to ensure everyone has evacuated, understand when to evacuate themselves and close the fire doors when everyone has left the building.
- Account for Employees
To make sure all employees evacuated safely, plan a way to account for everyone. Designate areas indoors and outdoors where employees will meet. These spaces must have adequate room for everyone. Be prepared to take a head count, too, since it enables emergency personnel during rescue attempts.
- Comply With OSHA Emergency Standards
Every section of your emergency evacuation plan must comply with OSHA standards. Review your emergency plan regularly to ensure it remains current as your business grows.
Safety comes first in your small business. With these seven considerations, your evacuation plan will help your employees and visitors stay safe.