Emergency Plans

Emergency Plans- what do I need to do?

Emergency Planning can be complicated or as simple as you need it to be.  The most important thing to remember is that things always go smoother in an emergency if you have thought about what you are going to do before the emergency occurs.  This article explores the reasons why you need an Emergency Plan, what is contained in an Emergency Plan as well as what training is required.

Why do I need an Emergency Plan?

Division 4 – Emergency Plans, Clause 43 – Duty to Prepare, Implement and Maintain Emergency Plans from the Work Health & Safety Regulations (SA) 2012 state that “a person conducting a business.. must ensure that an emergency plan is prepared for the workplace, that provides.. an effective response to an emergency”. This is a requirement, not an option!  Failure to comply can result in fines of up to $30,000 being issued to the business and fines of $6,000 to an individual.

The building regulations references a list of Essential Safety Provisions contained in Ministers Specification SA76.  This specification is called into law through the Development Regulations.  This specification is used as a range of measures that can be selected from by a Building Certifier when approving a building for construction.

Clause 3.1 Emergency Evacuation Procedures from the Minsters Specification SA76 requires Emergency Plans to be prepared for all Class 9a buildings – health care buildings.

To find out if it is a requirement for your building ask your local Council for the Essential Service Provisions.

The American President Benjamin Franklin is supposedly once to have said that “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.

The preparation and testing of an Emergency Plan is one way to ensure that when the worst happens you are prepared and the negative impacts from the situation are minimised.

If you fail to plan for an emergency then when one does occur the impact is likely to be catastrophic.

A business acquaintance of mine once had a heart attack at work, because the client had been trained on how to respond to such an emergency his life was saved. What would have happened if the client wasn’t prepared? Could you have saved his life?  If unsure then now is the time to either prepare your Emergency Plan, undertake training or review your Emergency Plan!

Emergency Plan – Evacuation Diagram – what’s the difference?

We often get asked if we can prepare an Evacuation Plan for a client to put on the wall.  Australian Standard AS 3745 Emergency Control Organization and Procedures for Buildings, Structures and Workplaces defines two main documents

  • Emergency Plan – Is a set of procedures that document the response to be taken to a range of foreseeable emergencies such as fire, bomb threat, personal injury, personal threat etc.
  • Evacuation Diagrams – a diagram displayed at prominent locations that outlines the evacuation paths and summarises the response by staff and visitors when evacuating the workplace.


What does an Emergency Plan contain?

An Emergency Plan documents the procedures that occur in an emergency.  The Australian Standard designed to assist in the preparation of an Emergency Plan is   AS 3745 Emergency Control Organization and Procedures for Buildings, Structures and Workplaces.

Before starting to prepare the physical responses to the plan a new organisational structure needs to be defined for who has authority during an emergency – the Emergency Control Organisation (ECO).  The senior managers in a company are often not available to control the organisations response to an emergency, as a result other staff may be given the role of Chief Warden, Wardens and First Aid Officers with a range of authority.

For Example the Chief Warden is in charge of the workplace during an emergency until Emergency Services such as the Metropolitan Fire Service attend.  This may include instructing the business owner or senior staff to take certain actions.  It is this authority that needs to be clearly defined in the Emergency Plan.

The new ECO with management then prepares the Emergency Plan which documents responses to foreseeable emergencies that may include (but not limited to)

(a) Bomb threat                                                               (b) Building invasion/armed intrusion

(c) Bushfire                                                                       (d) Chemical, biological and radiological

(e) Civil disorder                                                               (f) Cyclones, including storm surge

(g) Earthquake                                                                 (h) Fire

(i) Flood                                                                             (j) Hazardous substances incidents

(k) Industrial accident                                                     (l) Letter bomb

(m) Medical emergency                                                 (n) Severe weather/storm damage

(o) Structural instability                                                 (p) Terrorism

(q) Transport accident                                                   (r) Toxic emission

When preparing the Emergency Plan consideration should also be given to people with disabilities and mobility limitations.  When a person has been identified with a disability of mobility limitation a Personal Emergency Plan should be prepared.  This could include short term limitations such as someone recovering from a knee reconstruction.

For a full explanation of what is required in an Emergency Plan you can download the Australian Standard from this website.

What type of Training do I need?

Section 3 – Education and Training of AS 3745 Emergency Control Organization and Procedures for Buildings, Structures and Workplaces provides a comprehensive list of the expected training that is required.  The following is a summary of the training requirements.

The members of the Emergency Control Organisation who coordinate the response to an emergency require specific training, often called Warden Training.  This Warden Training outlines their roles, responsibilities and procedures for responding to an emergency.  Initial formal training is required of all Wardens.  For skill retention refresher training, in the form of exercises / drills should be conducted at least every 6 months.  We recommend that the formal training be repeated every 2 years.

All new staff and contractors should undertake an emergency briefing when they start in a workplace.  This training includes their expected response to an emergency and how to evacuate the workplace.  For skills retention this should be refreshed every year.  This is best done through an evacuation exercise / drill.

The training regime for First Aid is outside the scope of this blog, we would recommend that you seek information from a training organisations such as St John Ambulance Services SA.

All of Fire & Emergency Services SA’s clients with Occupant Warning Systems can undertake free drills facilitated by our staff up to 4 times per year.

What if I don’t have an Occupant Warning System or Fire Alarm System?

If you don’t have an integrated fire detection and alarm system or an occupant warning system then you will need to think about how an alarm to evacuate your workplace can be raised.  Some options include:

Air horn
Your voice – particularly if you are in a small shop or office
Interlinked smoke alarms that are linked with a manual call point

Do I need a RTO (Registered Training Organisation) course?

We often get asked about whether the training needs to be conducted by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), in South Australia it does not. However it is required in other states.
Most reputable training companies can offer an RTO course if you require one. If your staff are in various locations, in various states or for consistency undertaking a course with a RTO may be advantageous.

Where can I get help?

The Fire Protection Association (FPA) Australia lists the business that are recognised as being able to undertake emergency planning and workplace training

You can also find a list of Registered Training Organisations (RTO) that can deliver registered warden training at this link.

Or alternatively contact Fire & Emergency Services SA on (08) 8262 9245 to talk to one of our Regional Managers about getting an Emergency Plan, Evacuation Diagram or emergency drill conducted.

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