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Avoid creating a death trap during emergencies by ensuring your company's emergency exits and escape routes meet these six requirements...

by , 04 June 2013
According to the Associated Press, a fire swept through a poultry processing plant in northeastern China on Monday, killing 119 workers. When disaster struck, workers were trapped inside because only a side door to the building was open. The rest of the exits were locked. Here's how you can reduce the health and safety risks of your employees during emergencies by ensuring your company's emergency exits and escape routes meet the following safety requirements...

Emergency situations in the workplace could arise at any time. While you can't completely eliminate the possibility of a loss of life, you can reduce the risks.

And your first step is ensuring your company's emergency exits and escape routes meet the necessary requirements by the National Building Regulations.

You wouldn't want a situation where emergency exits and escape routes worsen the disaster, for example where they're locked during a fire and workers can't get out.

Find out what requirements you need to stick to reduce the health and safety risks of your employees …

Six requirements your company's emergency exits and escape routes must meet

Here's what the Health and Safety Advisor says you must do to meet these requirements.

  1. Your company should have an alternative emergency escape route. For example, if your building collapses, your employees must have another means of escape.
  2. Emergency escape routes and exits must have clear signage to help your employees locate them.
  3. Clearly mark your emergency escape routes and exits on your floor plans. Post these floor plans in toilets, at the lift and staircase foyers. Employees and visitors must understand and become familiar with your company floor plans.
  4. Each floor plan must include the names and phone numbers of the evacuation warden, a first aider and a fire fighter.
  5. If your company has lifts, ensure you have clear instructions for employees not to use them if there's a fire or a bomb threat.
  6. Your company's emergency exit doors must always be unlocked and must open outwards. If you have a small building and must lock the door to prevent burglaries, ensure there's a way to open the door in an emergency and all employees must know how to do this. Do this by providing:
  • Break-glass key boxes at the emergency exits with keys to the door;
  • Spring-loaded latches with a glass tube that has to be broken to release the latch;
  • Doors fitted with an alarm that sounds when the door is opened; and
  • Electronically controlled doors that are automatically unlock when the emergency alarm is sounded.

If your company's emergency exits and escape routes meet these National Building Regulation requirements, you'll be in a better position to reduce the health and safety risks of your employees during emergencies.

Turn to chapter E10 of your Health and Safety Advisor to get sample Emergency contact information sheet, Roll call register and much much more. 

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