It is imperative that all employees know what to do in the event of an emergency when the construction site must be quickly evacuated. Work sites might need to be evacuated in case of fires, explosions and explosion potential, cave-ins, bomb threats and natural disasters. Planning and communication are keys to ensuring a safe evacuation. This is especially important at construction sites that face constant changes in physical layout, people, equipment, location of emergency devices, and access and evacuation routes. The supervisors must have a plan in place for the evacuation, and the employees must be informed of what to do and where to go during the emergency.
Pre-planning for an Emergency
An emergency evacuation plan should be developed at the start of the job. It should include:
- A system to announce to the employees that the site is being evacuated.
- A meeting place for all personnel to gather during the evacuation.
- A designated individual who will be responsible to make sure all employees are accounted for once everyone has had time to reach the gathering site, and provide emergency response personnel the appropriate information for their rescue efforts.
- A place where emergency phone numbers are posted. These numbers include medical emergency personnel, police, fire, EPA, health department, IOSHA, utilities, insurance carriers, etc. Numbers should be conspicuously posted near telephones, and all employees should be informed of the location(s). A responsible person should be assigned to assess and make the necessary calls. Responses will be more efficient if everyone knows whose job it is to serve as incident commander, or to take specific steps.
- Someone assigned to talk to the media if they show up.
- Training that ensures all workers know how to correctly use the personnel protective equipment, fire extinguishers, etc.
- Time provided to practice the emergency procedures to ensure their effectiveness.
During the Evacuation:
- Do Not Panic.
- Announce to the site employees that the site should be evacuated immediately.
- Call the main office and let them know that there is an emergency.
- As instructed by the main office, call the proper authorities to deal with the emergency.
- Account for all employees’ whereabouts, and let emergency response personnel know of any missing people.
- Do not return to the site until the emergency is over.
- Determine the cause of the emergency.
- Find ways to prevent the reoccurrence of the same incident.
- Let other employees know what happened and what is being done to prevent a reoccurrence.
- Critique the evacuation and look for areas that need improvement.