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In an emergency, can you get everyone out of your workplace within 2 minutes?

Monday 3 July, 2017 10:33

Every New Zealand organisation, regardless of size should:

  1. Have an Emergency Evacuation Procedure or an Approved Fire Evacuation Scheme
  2. Have an Emergency Plan Folder at reception
  3. Stage a trial evacuation every 6 months
  4. Be able to get everyone out of your building(s) within 2 minutes

Who needs to create an Emergency Response Procedure or an Approved Fire Evacuation Scheme?

Every New Zealand workplace.

An emergency response procedure is appropriate for any and all workplaces.

Under The Fire Service Act, you must have an Emergency Evacuation Procedure or Emergency Evacuation Plan. The size, complexity and hazards of your organisation determine which.

You might think that emergency response plans are primarily for a fire, but here are examples of 15 other emergencies your workplace might experience:

  1. Power Failure
  2. Medical event
  3. Electrocution
  4. Neighbour emergency
  5. Gas line leak or rupture
  6. Chemical spill
  7. Explosion
  8. Bomb Threat
  9. Cyclone / Tornado
  10. Flood
  11. Volcanic Eruption
  12. Earthquake
  13. Tsunamis
  14. Pipeline or tank leak or rupture
  15. Confined Space

Your task is to work through the emergencies in the list above, and decide which are applicable and what you need to do to prepare.

As noted at #4 above, creating a response plan for your own emergencies is one thing, but who are your neighbours? How does their list of potential emergencies differ from yours? What impact might an evacuation or emergency on their premises have on you and your team?

The 10 Essential Components Of Your Emergency Plan Folder

The Emergency Plan Folder should be located at reception.

At a minimum, your Emergency Plan Folder should have the following 10 components.

  1. Fire Evacuation Procedure
    1. Are you assembly points easily accessible and marked?
    2. Are they far enough away so people are safe and out of the way of Emergency Services?
    3. Do staff know to stay at the assembly point until the all-clear is given?
  2. Other Emergency Procedures
    • As determined from the list above and/or your hazard identification process
    • Specific to each identified emergency situation
  3. Site Schematic
    • A Site Schematic is a floor plan of the building on your safety notice board, and clearly visible close to emergency exits. The site schematic should show the following:
    • Emergency Exits, Egress Routes (shortest clear route to an exit), and Assembly Point(s)
    • Fire Fighting Equipment and other Emergency equipment
    • Fire Alarm Points, Fire Alarm Panel(s) / Emergency Control Point
    • First Aid Kits, Sick Bay, Defibrillator unit(s), Fire Blankets
    • Electrical Isolation switch, Switch Boards, Transformers
    • Gas Isolation Valve(s), Hazardous Substances stores, Spill Kits,
    • Storm water drains, waste drains
  4. Emergency Controller & Wardens Duties
    • Duties documented
    • Trained personnel
  5. List of Emergency Controllers & Wardens
    • Names and mobile phone numbers
  6. List of First Aiders & their locations
    • Names and mobile phone numbers
  7. Emergency Number List
    • Emergency services and also tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians that can respond in an emergency
  8. Tally Board & Assistance Register
    • The Tally Board divides your building up into areas and you assign a warden and deputy for each area. As each area is cleared, you tick them off the tally board
    • The Assistance register specifies individuals who need assistance to exit the building during an emergency (for example, mobility or vision issues)
    • Both documents should be placed back to back, laminated together and be able to be removed and taken with you, together with a marker pen
  9. Trial Evacuation Procedure & Forms
    • See the 18 step guide below
  10. Employee Contact list – Next of Kin, Partners, etc
    • Needs to be kept up-to-date

5 additional components of an Emergency Plan Folder that might apply to your organisation:

  1. Emergency Shutdown Procedures
  2. Chemical Inventory / Hazardous Substances Register
  3. Safety Data Sheets [SDS] / Emergency Procedure Guides [EPG]
    • EPG’s are simplified instructions which group chemicals together and answer the question “what do I need to do right now?” in fire, leak, spill, skin contact situations
  4. Hazardous Zone Drawings
  5. Pipeline Drawings

How to run a Trial Evacuation in 18 steps

  1. Decide on Date & Time
  2. Advise Fire Service
  3. Check if any of your processes have to keep running
  4. On the day ring Fire Service Control and Confirm Time of your 111 call
    • They may give you a reference number
  5. Activate Alarm
  6. Record time
  7. Receptionist should dial 111
  8. Receptionist retrieves the Emergency Plan Folder and Visitor/Contractor Register
  9. Confirm with Wardens all areas have been cleared
  10. Turn off alarm
  11. Record Time
  12. Give “All Clear”
  13. Meet with Wardens and record any issues, etc.
  14. Complete assessment form
  15. If required ring Fire Service Control
    • Quote reference number
    • They may require a copy of the Assessment Report
  16. Fill in Trial Evacuation Log & Set new date
  17. Discuss issues and corrective actions at Health & Safety meeting
  18. Undertake trial evacuation every six months

Can you answer “Yes!” to the following 4 questions?

  1. Do you have an Emergency Plan Folder?
  2. Is it at reception so your team can grab it as they evacuate, and it’s accessible to emergency services?
  3. Was your last trial evacuation less than 6 months ago?
  4. Are you able to get everyone out of your building(s) within 2 minutes?

If you answered “Yes!” to those questions, well done!

If not, the good news is, help is at hand. Call Securo on 0800 55 33 44 or email