Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

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Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool

Evacuation Elements Employer Responsibilities

People in meeting

When there is an emergency, getting workers out of high-rise buildings poses special challenges. Preparing in advance to safely evacuate the building is critical to the safety of employees who work there.

  • Don't lock fire exits or block doorways, halls, or stairways.
  • Test regularly all back-up systems and safety systems, such as emergency lighting and communication systems, and repair them as needed.
  • Develop a workplace evacuation plan, post it prominently on each floor, and review it periodically to ensure its effectiveness.
  • Identify and train floor wardens, including back-up personnel, who will be responsible for sounding alarms and helping to evacuate employees.
  • Conduct emergency evacuation drills periodically.
  • Establish designated meeting locations outside the building for workers to gather following an evacuation. The locations should be safe distance from the building and in an area where people can assemble safely without interfering with emergency response teams.
  • Identify personnel with special needs or disabilities who may need help evacuating and assign one or more people, including back-up personnel, to help them.
  • Ensure that during off-hour periods, systems are in place to notify, evacuate, and account for off-hour building occupants.
  • Post emergency numbers near telephones.
  • Sound appropriate alarms and instruct employees to leave the building.
  • Notify, police, firefighters, or other appropriate emergency personnel.
  • Take a head count of employees at designated meeting locations, and notify emergency personnel of any missing workers.


Because every high-rise building has unique characteristics involving location, design, construction, and occupancy, this page covers only some of the basic considerations for safe evacuation. This information is not a substitute for a site-specific evacuation program nor does it detail specific OSHA or OSHA-approved state plan standards that may be applicable to individual work sites. Likewise, it does not create independent legal obligations. In addition, OSHA citations can only issued for violations of the OSH Act, OSHA standards, or OSHA regulations.

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