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Workplaces need to plan for emergencies as part of the health and safety planning and risk assessing. This should be a written plan outlining the procedures to be followed in the event of explosion, flood, poisoning, electrocution, fire, release of radioactivity and chemical spills or other reasonably foreseeable incidents.
Records should be kept including the procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency, listing the competent persons responsible for implementing the procedures, the details of relevant training provided including emergency evacuation drills, the maintenance records for emergency alarms and other equipment used in an emergency. Procedures should be established that include raising the alarm, exits and escape routes, assembly points, the procedure for calling the emergency services and the evacuation of disabled persons.
Individuals should be appointed to deal with certain procedures in case of an emergency situation. People should be nominated and responsible for liaising with the emergency services, Fire Wardens and Fire Marshalls, First Aiders and employees responsible for shutting down machinery and plant, making it safe before evacuation takes place. Other people that need to be consulted in creating an emergency plan may also include people responsible for emergency power supplies and lighting.
Other considerations may be, is the building shared? Do other businesses need to be included in the plan, are there any particular hazards relating to the storage of chemicals, hazardous or explosive substances that should be reported to the fire rescue service. Good planning combined with the quick and effective action may help to ease the situation and reduce the consequences.
However, in emergencies, people are more likely to respond reliably if they have regular training and realistic practice of the emergency procedures. It is also important to have clear plans and ensure that everyone knows what to do in an emergency and record and improve the plans over time and after any improvements are identified. If you have any doubts ask for assistance from the emergency services or other professional organisations.