Evacuation diagrams. Why do they need to be displayed?
Why do I need to display evacuation diagrams at my facility? The Australian Standard AS 3745-2010 ‘Planning for emergencies in facilities’ defines an evacuation diagram as ‘emergency and evacuation information about the facility, comprising a pictorial representation of a floor or area and other relevant response information’. Hopefully, your workplace displays these diagrams in various locations. If not perhaps you should ask why not. You may have seen them at shopping centres or in hotel rooms, lobbies and passageways. If you haven’t bothered to take notice of them, it may be worthwhile spending a short moment to take a look the next time you see one fixed to a door or wall. That brief moment may in fact contribute to saving your life and the lives your family, work colleagues or visitors to your workplace.
Evacuation diagrams must provide minimum elements, however may also contain a number of optional elements as described in the standard. Some buildings can be very large and complex in design, and people can be become easily disoriented. This situation is often exacerbated in emergencies. One important element that is essential on the diagrams is an indication of your location within a building or facility. This is identified by the wording ‘You are here’. Diagrams must have the correct orientation with regard to the direction of egress and location to the ‘You are here’ point. Diagrams must also display designated exits in green. This should assist you and others in your safe egress from the building or facility. It is possible that exits can be compromised by the emergency situations, so it’s important that alternate exits are identified on a diagram. Diagrams also display the locations of manual call points for raising an alarm (if installed), fire extinguishers, fire blankets, fire indicator panels, location of assembly areas and emergency communications equipment for trained staff use. A range of optional items can also be included such as paths of travel to exits, first aid equipment and basic procedures to followed in an emergency.
If you live in Victoria, and you are an employer, the OH&S Act requires you to provide and maintain a safe workplace, including being prepared for emergency situations. Emergency Plans are recognised as an important part of maintaining a safe workplace. An emergency plan is written documentation of emergency arrangements for a facility. They consist of arrangements for preparedness, prevention and response activities. Evacuation diagrams are a key component of an emergency plan. There is a range of legislation that reference emergency plans and evacuation diagrams. The OH&S Regulations in Victoria make specific reference to emergency plans for certain risks, such as Major Hazard Facilities and Mines. The Residential Tenancies (Rooming House Standards) Regulations 2012 requires that the rooming house owner must prepare an evacuation diagram for the rooming house in accordance with section 3.5 and Appendix E of AS 3745 Planning for emergencies in facilities, as published from time to time. An evacuation diagram must be prominently displayed in each resident’s room and in all common areas. Other legislation may also apply to your type of occupancy.
Ensure that you understand your obligations to maintain a safe workplace. Contact EPESA for advice or assistance in developing your emergency plan and evacuation diagrams.