January 6, 2021

Health and Safety Information Bulletin 12: Emergency Evacuation Routes

HSE Blog 12 - Emergency Evacuation
What are emergency evacuation routes?

An Emergency Evacuation or Exit Route (or Means of Egress) is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a building to a place of safety

  • Every exit is to be clearly visible or the route to reach every exit shall be clearly indicated
  • Each means of egress is to be marked so that the way to a place of safety is clearly indicated
  • The number of evacuation routes will depend on the occupant load
  • All components of a means of egress should be maintained, inspected and repaired to ensure they serve their intended purpose during emergencies
  • Daily inspections of doors, corridors and stairs should be performed to ensure they are not obstructed or blocked
 
Why is it important to keep evacuation routes and exits unobstructed?

Fire can spread very quickly, so it is important that when a fire breaks out that occupants can evacuate the building as quickly as possible.

If the route out of the building is blocked or even just partially blocked, it can prolong evacuation times as occupants may need to move things out of the way or avoid objects.

It may also lead to accidents such as trips and falls as occupants try to leave the building.

Keeping evacuation routes and exits unobstructed
  • Keeping all fire doors and evacuation routes free from obstruction and clutter, especially in corridors and common areas is a high priority
  • If you observe a blocked fire exit or obstructed fire route you should inform Management immediately
  • To enable a quick escape, emergency exits provide additional ways to escape the building in case of a fire or other catastrophe
  • The escape route should lead to a place of safety, normally outside and away from the building
  • It is important that merchandise, furniture, or other items never block emergency doors
 
  • Doors on escape routes must always be available for use without the use of a key
  • During evacuations many occupants would try to leave the building at once which could result in occupant build-up slowing down the evacuation
  • It is therefore important to ensure exit routes are available and unobstructed, ensuring occupants leave quickly, greatly decreasing the risk of injury or death
  • Emergency exits can also be used when the main exit is blocked during a fire or disaster providing an alternative escape route

Topics: Health, Safety & Environment (HSE)

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