We spend countless hours at work, but how much of that time is devoted to learning exit strategies in case of emergencies? Regardless of your vocation, whether it is in a plant, factory, warehouse, or office, you need to know the quickest route out of the building. How would you escape from your workplace in an emergency? Do you know where all the
exit doors are in case your first choice is too crowded? Are you sure the doors will be unlocked and that the exit access, 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.
There are more than 5,000 injured workers every year as the result of workplace fires and explosions. Employers should conduct fire and safety drills often, as new employees will learn more through practice rather than their original orientation when they are first hired. Knowing the right safety policies and becoming familiar with fire exit directions create a safer environment for everyone.
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:
- Exit access – portion of an exit route that leads to an exit.
- Exit – portion of an exit route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.
- Exit discharge – part of the exit route that leads directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside.
According to OSHA, a workplace normally 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.
Exception: If the number of employees, the size of the building, its occupancy, or the design of the workplace allows all employees to evacuate safely during an emergency, one exit route is permitted.
It would also be a good idea to pay attention to exit routes when visiting a hospital, sitting in a theater, going to the mall, a restaurant, or any large or crowded facility. When we strap ourselves in for a plane trip, how many persons are actually paying attention to the safety instructions being given before take-off? Hopefully, we won’t ever need to find the exit in this type of emergency, but it would be a smart thing to be aware of the location of the exits, as well as how to use the oxygen or flotation devices, if needed. Hopefully, all schools conduct fire drills often in order to assure the safety of our children.
Our malls furnish huge maps to let you know where you are and the location of the stores you are seeking. How many of us have paid attention to our company maps that furnish the same information regarding exactly where you are, and how to evacuate in the case of an emergency? To avoid panic, your company should ensure that all employees are on the same page when it comes to exit strategies, but we must do our part as well.