04/27/2015 | Facility Managers, Is your Building Prepared for an Emergency?
Facility emergencies can threaten the integrity of your building and the well-being of employees, customers and general occupants. Common emergencies include floods, tornadoes, fires, hurricanes, large chemical spills, explosions and workplace violence. Facility managers should always have an aggressive emergency plan established that adequately addresses these catastrophes (where applicable). Ensuring a facility is in compliance with OSHA standards regarding emergency evacuation procedures is also critical to maintaining the operations of any U.S. facility.
10 Important Points to Consider When Developing an Emergency Plan
1. Manufacturing facility managers should have procedures outlined for employees who are specifically designated to remain and perform shutdown operations critical to the safety of plant operations.
2. Include the presence of qualified first aid personnel in any emergency plan.
3. Assign an assembly location where employees are to go upon hearing the evacuation alarm.
4. Alarms need to be loud, distinct and recognizable by building occupants, preferably accompanied by flashing red lights to enhance the warning and ensure any disabled individuals are made aware of the emergency.
5. Facility managers should consider having an auxiliary power source available in case electricity is shut off before alarms can be triggered.
6. Never rely on just one evacuation route. Always have primary and secondary escape routes open and ready for all emergency situations.
7. Conduct emergency drills twice a year and review emergency procedures after the drill to confirm everyone understands exactly where to go and what to do when an emergency occurs.
8. For facilities in earthquake-prone regions (the west and west coast of the U.S., in particular), OSHA designates "nonstructural seismic weaknesses" as potentially dangerous items that have not been braced, anchored or secured in some way to avoid causing human and property loss during a significant earthquake.
9. The number and type of fire extinguishers that facilities need to remain compliant with local, state and federal safety codes depends on the facility's square footage and the "predefined" hazardous rating given to the building by inspectors or fire code marshals.
10. Documentation detailing the location of emergency equipment (fire hoses, fire extinguishers, panic alarms, personal protective equipment, emergency communication devices, etc.) should be displayed in well-lit, accessible areas of relevant facilities, such as industrial/chemical plants and laboratories.
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