Marc Abla, CAE | Oct 2, 2019 | 0
Fire Extinguishers, Evacuations, and OSHA
We all want a workplace that is safe for our employees, our patients, and for us, but what does that look like in practice? When dealing with the specific subject of fire safety, evacuation plans, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, fire suppressants, and other emergency plans can become incredibly cumbersome. Fortunately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has provided guidance on developing the appropriate plan in the office.
OSHA gives guidelines for two major subjects surrounding fire safety in the office – a plan and a system. A plan is what your employees and patients will do in the case of an emergency, and the system is what is used in case of an emergency.
How frequently do my fire extinguishers have to be inspected? Do I have to have an emergency action plan? What about exit signs? Do my employees have to be trained to use fire extinguishers? Do we fight or flee? How do my employees report emergencies?
Although all the information below is important, here are two things that you should not miss:
1) You should have wall mounted fire extinguishers on every floor and within 75 feet walking distance of all areas, and they should be visually inspected once a month and professionally tested once every year.
2) Use this tool to develop your personalized Emergency Action Plan: //www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/expertsystem/default.htm
Here are the considerations and eTool links for your office:
Editor’s Note: Remember that OSHA governs workplaces that have a wide variety of sizes and number of employees. Although this information is written to more specifically deal with larger employers, these standards must be applied to our smaller offices.
Should you evacuate or fight a small fire? See the Fight or Flee section here:
Portable fire extinguisher questions:
- Are you required to have fire extinguishers and how many? (General
Requirement and Exemption section)
- How often must the extinguishers be inspected? Monthly and annually by a professional (Inspection, Maintenance, and Testing section)
- Who can use the extinguishers and what are the training requirements? (Training and Education section)
Alarm system and exit route marking questions:
- How should the exits be marked? //www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/egress.html (Lighting and Marking section)
- What type of alarm system is required? //www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/alarms.html (Employee Alarm System)
Emergency Action Plan questions:
- Do I have to have a plan and what is required to be in the plan? //www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/min_requirements.html
- How and who should report emergencies? //www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/reporting.html
- Is there a simple way to know if I am required to have a written plan? Yes – Use this assessment tool: //www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/require_eap.html
- How do I develop my Emergency Action Plan? Simple, use OSHA’s online “Create Your Own EAP” tool: //www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/expertsystem/default.htm
These tools should assist you in creating the right plan with the right equipment to keep your employees, your patients, and you safe.