As a business owner, you have many responsibilities to your workers and clients, but one of the most important is providing them with a safe workplace. Evacuation planning is an essential part of this, and if you don’t have an emergency strategy — or it hasn’t been updated recently — you should make drafting a new one your first priority.
To that end, here are the four essential steps you should take to create an effective evacuation plan.
1. Plan the Evacuation Route
The first question any office manager needs to consider is what the evacuation route will be. In most areas, a building is required to have at least two accessible exits, and planning an evacuation route for all exits in the case that one is blocked is essential.
Part of your evacuation-route planning should involve identifying a rallying point outside the building where your team can regroup and a roll-call can be taken to see if anyone is missing.
2. Post Evacuation Plan
Once you have created your evacuation route and identified team leaders who will serve as marshals to help lead your team out, you’ll need to post the evacuation plan throughout your building. Even employees who have been trained how to safely exit the building may forget the proper procedures in an emergency, so ensure the information is easily accessible is important.
3. Acquire Evacuation Chairs
As already noted, in the case of an emergency it may not be possible to use the usual ways of getting into and out of your building. Stairwells can be blocked or unsafe, and elevators and escalators will not work as normal.
This means that you need to be prepared to help any employees, clients, or guests with reduced mobility exit the building safely. Purchasing an evacuation chair is the easiest way to do this. Evacuation chairs are perfect for:
- Injured people
- Individuals who use walking aids or wheelchairs
Because evacuation chairs can be folded up and stored in your office, once you acquire them, they will always be on hand.
4. Undertake Regular Evacuation Drills
Finally, in order to make sure your team understands the plan inside and out, you need to undertake regular evacuation drills. Practical experience of the process will help them understand what they need to do in an actual emergency.
Most safety experts recommend you hold drills at least twice a year. If you live in an area where seasons differ significantly, it’s a good idea to have one in summer and one in winter in case factors like snow or extreme heat pose additional challenges.
No one likes to think about the possibility that disaster could strike their place of work, and with businesses facing so many challenges in 2020, it can be easy for this kind of long-term safety planning to take a back seat. But with fires ravaging California and hurricane season approaching, it’s important to remember that emergencies don’t follow a convenient timetable.
A fundamental part of your duties as an employer is to keep your staff safe while on the job. If you aren’t confident your plan includes everything that will help your team evacuate safely, draft a new one today.