Employers must establish appropriate procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to persons at work. This includes the duty of employers or controllers of premises to ensure that any necessary contacts are arranged with external services, particularly with regard to first aid, emergency medical care and rescue work.
As obvious as it sounds, emergency plans should include procedures for determining whether an emergency has occurred, and when to activate the plan in response to an emergency. This should include identifying an appropriately trained person who will take the decision, in consultation with others, on when an emergency has occurred.
An emergency evacuation plan, regardless of the cause of the evacuation, would comprise the following four stages:
1. How staff are enabled to recognise an emergency.
2. Communication of the emergency to affected staff.
3. Preparation of staff and/or the building for the evacuation.
4. Actions of staff and others (e.g. visitors) in the emergency evacuation.
The above stages would lead to a plan that would cover, as a minimum, the following points:
• What action should be taken by persons discovering an emergency.
• Who is responsible for making contact with the emergency services and the method of doing so.
• Identification of type of warning alarms (bells / klaxons / sirens) to be used (this is important as confusion can arise over what different alarms mean).
• Location of call points, escape routes, duties and identities of persons with special responsibilities and assembly points, i.e. places of safety.
• Procedures for dealing with the emergency services on arrival (including providing information on risks to them, e.g. presence of asbestos, flammables, etc.), and the training that should be provided for all employees or occupiers.