This week’s Safetip is about emergency preparedness and the need to inspect emergency escape routes.
Identify Evacuation Routes
As part of your emergency action plan, you should have identified, documented and communicated the emergency evacuation routes to use in the case of an accident or disaster. But it’s not enough to simply designate escape routes. You must also make sure that there are no obstacles that could prevent a proper and prompt evacuation of workers.
Regular inspections can help you verify if there are any potential problems.
A Checklist with Four Main Items
What type of checklist should you use when inspecting emergency escape routes? What items should you verify?
A BLR article on a checklist for inspecting your emergency escape routes gives a great idea of the types of things to check. Here’s a summary of the BLR checklist:
1) Is the route clearly marked?
- Is the route marked all along its length? It’s not enough to mark only the exits.
- Is there reflective paint on stairs, railings and stairwell doors; bright arrows along corridors to exits; and battery-operated emergency lighting so people find the way out, even in the dark or smoke?
- Are there markings and lightings at floor level?
2) Are dead ends clearly indicated?
- Is any route that could be mistaken for an exit clearly marked “Not an Exit”? Workers who mistakenly go through the wrong door may find themselves trapped.
- When possible, are physical barriers used to reinforce this information?
3) Could the route be blocked?
- Is there equipment (e.g. forklift) that could cause an evacuation problem if it stops in place during an emergency?
- Are materials stored at places where they could obstruct exit routes?
- Is there a risk that workers could find themselves trapped against a locked door (e.g. does the exit lead to a roll-up door that might be rolled down and secured at the wrong moment)?
4) Is the route itself safe?
- Does the exit route go through or pass close to an area that could become hazardous in a fire or emergency, like a tank farm or chemical storage area? Ideally it should not.
Since workplaces change, be sure to regularly conduct inspections of emergency escape routes. Finally, consider the use of a mobile inspection app to complete inspections from anywhere and at any time, online or offline.
Each week we publish a Safetip where we share a safety tip or best practice that contributes to safety excellence. The next Safetip will be published on Wednesday June 26.
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