A well-functioning evacuation management can save lives. Therefore, those responsible should be prepared as best as possible for emergencies and regularly practice how employees and visitors can be brought to safety quickly in the event of danger or disaster. Such emergency situations should be kept in mind in particular by companies that belong to the critical infrastructure (Kritis). Because these organizations or institutions are of particular importance for society. If they fail completely or partially, this can lead to considerable burdens for the state, the economy and large parts of the population. These include organizations from the fields of energy and water supply as well as the health sector. A statistic from the Bundesverband Technischer Brandschutz eV shows that the right preparation for an emergency is particularly important for them: In the year 2021 came to 14 Fires in German hospitals – the result: many injuries. Regular evacuation exercises are all the more important.
Risk assessment and fire protection instruction
The Occupational Safety and Health Act stipulates that all employers must take precautions for first aid, firefighting and evacuation of employees and prepare a risk assessment. It examines which risks can lead to an evacuation and which measures are required. Employers are also obliged to carry out regular fire safety instructions. During the briefing, it is advisable to point out potential misconduct to employees during evacuations. These include hectic activity or the use of elevators and escalators. In addition, many employees tend to stay at the workplace in the event of an emergency, or to collect supposedly important things, or even to leave the company premises completely unnoticed. If employees are made aware of this in advance, misconduct can ideally be avoided entirely.
So that everything going according to plan
Organized processes often not only simplify the evacuation, they also save precious time. An evacuation plan will help keep a cool head, especially in the event of unforeseen events in emergency situations. Evacuation plans should make a panic-free and structured evacuation possible. Components of such an evacuation plan are, among other things, alarm plans, evacuation routes as well as behavior and rescue measures. The graphic part of the plan indicates, among other things, the escape routes based on the floor plans of the building. Rapid in-house alerting is an important basis so that important processes are triggered and everyone is informed about the emergency. Among other things, it is important to define the conditions under which an evacuation is to be triggered, who can trigger it, who is informed and how it is then announced. In addition, the evacuation plan should specify who bears what responsibility in evacuation cases. In addition, in some companies it is mandatory to appoint fire protection officers. It is also advisable to appoint evacuation helpers, who will coordinate the evacuation in their area, indicate escape routes and provide support in checking attendance at the assembly point. Fire protection assistants take on the first measures in the event of a fire, instruct the fire brigade and support the evacuation.
Check escape routes and technical equipment
Once the evacuation plan has been finalized, should Those responsible test the plan for its effectiveness. It is therefore necessary to check a number of factors, such as whether the escape and rescue routes are correctly marked and signposted. In addition, sensitive danger areas must be marked. This includes rooms in which combustible and flammable substances are stored as well as server rooms, distribution cabinets or archives. The technical requirements should be checked in advance so that the alert plan can be implemented smoothly. These include the emergency lighting and sirens, loudspeaker systems, telephone chains and other reporting channels. Basically, every evacuation plan should be tested in practice in regular evacuation drills.
Photo: Interflex Clipboards are a thing of the past: Thanks to the new dynamic list from Interflex, evacuations are safer and more efficient with the help of tablets. Well-functioning evacuation management can save lives – this is particularly true for Kritis companies.
How often evacuation exercises should be carried out is determined in the risk assessment. The number depends on various factors, such as the size of the company, complicated spatial conditions or potential sources of danger such as fires or explosions. If the exercise is announced in advance, the employees are informed and do not panic – the exercise can be coordinated. The disadvantage of this is that employees who know that it is not an emergency do not take the exercise seriously and, for example, do not leave their workplace. The practice effect is therefore much stronger if the employees are surprised by the alarm.
Assembly point as a safe place
In the event of an evacuation and during exercises, all persons on the site must go to the assembly points – the number of these is determined in the risk assessment. In the event of an alarm, it is crucial that everyone present leaves the building without detours and goes to the right assembly point. Rescue and escape route signs point the way. The location of an assembly point is marked in the escape plan and is defined based on various factors. A collection point should preferably be on a flat and paved surface – such as a parking lot or other areas that are away from hazardous materials. On the one hand, a safe distance from the danger area or building must be maintained and, on the other hand, the assembly point must be easily accessible via escape and rescue routes. In addition, access and exit routes must provide sufficient space for emergency services and general traffic routes must remain free. Collection points are marked with the collection point sign. The sign should be in the field of vision and must not be obscured by trees or the like. The risk assessment also shows whether lighting is required at the assembly point.
Presence control at the assembly point – with digital solution
At the assembly point, the evacuees are waiting safely for the emergency services. Meanwhile, it is important to determine as quickly as possible whether anyone is missing. For this purpose, those responsible for security and evacuation helpers must carry out attendance checks quickly and efficiently. In many companies, paper lists are still used for this purpose – those present are checked off in writing on the printed list at the assembly point. However, such lists can often be outdated when they are printed. With the dynamic evacuation list from Interflex, for example, there is a digital solution that is continuously updated. The basis for the evacuation list is the system IF-6040, a software solution that includes modules for access control, visitor management, time management and Personnel deployment planning offers. The corresponding modules provide the basis and information for the application. It includes company employees, contractors and visitors who were on the premises at the time of the evacuation.
Digital evacuation management: Safe, up-to-date and efficient
The Interflex evacuation management list is updated continuously – even during the evacuation. Because the dynamic list uses access control information and data, it records when a person books at the terminal to leave the factory premises. This person is then automatically listed as absent. So they have In the event of an evacuation, those responsible have a more precise overview of how many and which people are currently in a possible danger zone. Security officers at the assembly point have access to the application via tablets and can monitor the evacuation. For example, all people who have arrived at the assembly point can be removed from the danger zone list as evacuated quickly and efficiently. In addition, employees can optionally remove themselves from the list or danger zone at the assembly points using special evacuation terminals. To do this, they hold their employee ID card up to the terminals provided for this purpose. If people are missing, those responsible for security, evacuation helpers, supervisors or emergency services can use the information stored to quickly get in touch with individually specified contacts.
Careful maneuver review
After the exercise is before the exercise: Evacuation exercises should not only be carefully prepared, but also followed up. In order to exploit potential for improvement, it is advisable to reflect together with all participants on how the exercise went. It is advisable to record deficiencies in a protocol and to analyze the causes of the deficits. Among other things, those responsible for security should critically question where there were obvious deviations from the evacuation plan, whether all employees chose the right escape routes or heard the alarm, and evaluate cooperation with the fire brigade and police. In addition, it was to be checked whether all those involved had arrived quickly at the assembly points and whether the attendance check ran efficiently and smoothly. Based on this, improvement measures should be derived and implemented promptly. This is the only way to ensure that evacuations succeed in an emergency and run as smoothly as possible.
Security officers should prepare as best they can for emergencies. This applies in particular to companies that are subject to the Major Accidents Ordinance or to which Kritis belongs, but also to any other company. Accidents or malfunctions cannot be completely prevented, but comprehensive preparation creates safety in the event of an emergency and can save lives. Important components are a well thought-out evacuation plan and regular evacuation exercises. Careful preparation is the be-all and end-all to ensure that this runs smoothly – because that is crucial in an emergency. Digital solutions help to implement evacuation management in an up-to-date, safer, more efficient and thus also more cost-saving manner.
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