How would you escape from your workplace in an emergency? Do you know where all the exits are in case your first choice is too crowded? Are you sure the doors will be unlocked and the exit route, such as a hallway, will not be blocked during a fire, explosion, or other crisis? Knowing the answers to these questions could keep you safe during an emergency.
An exit route is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety. An exit route consists of three parts:
Normally, a workplace must have at least two exit routes to permit prompt evacuation of employees and other building occupants during an emergency. More than two exits are required, however, if the number of employees, size of the building, or arrangement of the workplace will not allow employees to evacuate safely. Exit routes must be located as far away as practical from each other in case one is blocked by fire or smoke. But, there is one exception to this rule. If the number of employees, the size of the building, its occupancy, or the arrangement of the workplace allows all employees to evacuate safely during an emergency, one exit route is permitted.
There are some other design and construction requirements for exit routes:
If a company has 10 or fewer employees, a supervisor may communicate its emergency action plan orally. If the company has more than 10 employees, emergency action plan must be written, kept in the workplace, and available for employee review. Employers are required to have an emergency action plan (EAP) only when applicable OSHA standard requires it. However, OSHA strongly recommends ALL employers have an EAP. Employers need to have certain elements on hand for several different situations. For example, they need to have procedures for reporting fires and other emergencies, emergency evacuation plans, and an alarm system to alert workers of the problem. In addition, supervisors must designate and train their employees to assist in a safe and orderly evacuation of all employees. They must also review the EAP with each employee covered when the following occur:
Sample Emergency Action Plan Template: PDF
A fire prevention plan must be in writing, kept in the workplace, and made available to employees to review. As with the EAP, if an employer has 10 or fewer employees, supervisors may communicate the plan orally. Employers with more than 10 employees must communicate the plan in writing. A fire prevention plan must list all major fire hazards, proper handling and storage materials, and the type of fire protection equipment necessary to control each fire hazard. The FPP must also include the name or job title of the employees who are responsible for maintaining equipment to prevent or control sources of ignition or fires. In addition, when a supervisor assigns employees to a job, they must inform them of any fire hazards they may be exposed to. Employers must also review with each employee those parts of the fire prevention plan necessary for self-protection.
Sample Fire Prevention Plan Template: PDF
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