under which an evacuation would be necessary
wide variety of emergencies both man-made and natural,
may require a workplace to be evacuated. These emergencies
include - fires, explosions, floods, earthquakes,
hurricanes, tornadoes, toxic material releases,
radiological and biological accidents, civil disturbances
and workplace violence.
Employers will want their employees to respond differently
to these different threats. For example, employers
may want to have employees assemble in one area
inside the workplace if threatened by a tornado
or perhaps a chemical spill on an adjacent highway,
but evacuate to an exterior location during a fire.
Your plan must identify when and how employees are
to respond to different types of emergencies. Ask
yourself questions and brainstorm worst-case scenarios.
What would happen if the storeroom caught fire,
the river flooded, or a chemical release occurred
in the shop?
- The type of building you work in may be a factor in your decision. Most buildings
are vulnerable to the effects of disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods,
or explosions. The extent of the damage depends on the type of emergency and the
buildings construction. Modern factories and office buildings, for example, are
framed in steel and are structurally more sound than neighborhood business premises
may be. In a disaster such as a major earthquake or explosion, however, nearly
every type of structure will be affected. Some buildings will collapse and others
will be left with weakened floors and walls.
employers create maps from
diagrams with arrows that designate the exit
route assignments. These maps should include locations
of exits, assembly points, and equipment (such as
fire extinguishers, first aid kits, spill kits)
that may be needed in an emergency. Exit routes
When preparing drawings that
show evacuation routes and exits, post them prominently
for all employees to see. See
OSHA's Floorplan Diagram example and
OSHA's Interactive Floorplan Demonstration.
- Clearly marked and well lit,
- Wide enough to accommodate the number
of evacuating personnel,
- Unobstructed and clear of debris at
all times, and
- Unlikely to expose evacuating personnel
to additional hazards.
- For more information on exit routes,
required height and widths, door access
and hinges, see
Design and Construction Requirements for Exit Routes.
Obstacles in hallways
passageways from providing the
width to accommodate
a safe evacuation.
Maintenance, Safeguards, and Operational Features for Exit Routes.
for assisting visitors and employees to evacuate,
particularly those with disabilities or who do not
employers designate individuals as evacuation wardens
to help move employees from danger to safe areas
during an emergency. Generally, one warden for every
20 employees should be adequate, and the appropriate
number of wardens should be available at all times
during working hours.
employees with special needs (who may require extra
assistance during an evacuation), how to use the
buddy system, and any hazardous areas to avoid during
an emergency evacuation.
may be responsible for checking offices, bathrooms,
and other spaces before being the last person
to exit an area. They might also be tasked
with ensuring that fire doors are closed when
exiting. All employees designated to assist
in emergency evacuation procedures should
be trained in the complete workplace layout
and various alternative escape routes if the
primary evacuation route becomes blocked.
Employees designated to assist in emergencies
should be made aware of
Visitors also should be accounted for following
an evacuation and may need additional assistance
when exiting. Some employers have all visitors and
contractors sign in when entering the workplace
and use this list when accounting for all persons
in the assembly area. The hosts and/or area wardens,
if established, are often tasked with helping these
individuals safely evacuate.
You also may find it beneficial to coordinate the
action plan with other employers when several employers
share the worksite, although OSHA standards do not
specifically require this.
who may remain to shut down critical
operations before evacuating
equipment and processes must be shut down in stages
or over time. In other instances it is not possible
or practical for equipment or certain process to
be shut down under certain emergency situations.
This condition, which is not unusual for certain
large manufacturers operating complex processes,
is not typical of small enterprises that normally
can turn off equipment or utilities if necessary
and evacuate. However some small enterprises may
require designated employees remain behind briefly
to operate fire
extinguishers or shut down gas and/or electrical
systems and other special equipment that could be
damaged if left operating or create additional hazards
to emergency responders (such as releasing hazardous
Each employer must review their operation and determine
whether total and immediate evacuation is possible
for various types of emergencies. The preferred
approach, and the one most often taken by small
enterprises, is immediate evacuation of all their
employees when the evacuation alarm is sounded.
If any employees will stay behind, the plan must
describe in detail the procedures to be followed
by these employees. All employees remaining behind
must be capable of recognizing
to abandon the operation or task and evacuate
themselves before their
path is blocked. In small establishments it is common
to include in your plan locations where utilities
(such as electrical and gas) can be shut down for
all or part of the facility either by your own employees
or by emergency response personnel.
for employees after an evacuation
ensure the fastest, most accurate accountability
of your employees, you may want to consider including
these steps in your
- Designate assembly areas or areas, both inside and outside your workplace,
where employees should gather after evacuating.
Assembly locations within the building are often
referred to as "areas of refuge." Make sure your
assembly area has sufficient space to
accommodate all of your employees. Exterior
assembly areas, used when the building must be
partially or completely evacuated, are typically
located in parking lots or other open areas away
from busy streets. Try and designate assembly
areas so that you will be up-wind of your
building from the most common or prevailing wind
- Take a head count after the evacuation.
Identify the names and last known locations of
anyone not accounted for and pass them to the
official in charge. Accounting for all employees
following an evacuation is critical. Confusion
in the assembly areas can lead to delays in
rescuing anyone trapped in the building, or
unnecessary and dangerous search-and-rescue
operations. When designating an assembly area,
consider (and try to minimize) the possibility
of employees interfering with rescue operations.
- Establish a method for accounting for non-employees
such as suppliers and customers; and
- Establish procedures for further evacuation
in case the incident expands. This may consist
of sending employees home by normal means or
providing them with transportation to an offsite