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

Emergency evacuation planning is an essential part of preventing injuries and ensuring the safety of your employees in emergency situations.

It's your duty as an employer to identify possible emergency situations like fires, flooding, explosions, bomb threats, and hostage situations. Prepare for dealing with emergencies and ensure all employees know what to do by:

  • Providing clear instructions and information;
  • Holding regular practice drills; and
  • Conducting regular inspections of emergency equipment and escape routes.
And as a health and safety control measure, your workplace must have emergency exits and escape routes. But that's not enough. Your company's escape routes must meet the health and safety requirements of the National Building Regulations too.

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

  1. Your company should have an alternative emergency escape route. For example, if your building collapses, your employees have another means of escape.
  2. Emergency escape routes and exits must have clear emergency signage to help your employees escape.
  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 unlocked 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.

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Alexandr Grigorev

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