Emergency Assembly Areas
In the event of a fire or other emergency which calls for the evacuation of a building, there needs to be a designated area where the people coming out of the building can assemble. These assembly points need to have a number of characteristics:
Firstly, they must be located at a suitable distance away from the premises that has just been evacuated. This is because the issue that is the cause of the incident and brought about the need to evacuate is almost certain to still be a danger to people if they are stood right next to the building, e.g. a fire, an explosion or a poisonous gas leak. It is also important to ensure that the location of the assembly site or sites is not in the way and causing an obstruction to the emergency services, as the additional time required for them to fight their way through a crowd could make a significant difference to the amount of damage to property or people that is subsequently caused.
The assembly areas need to be clearly signposted so that not only is it obvious where people are supposed to gather, but it should also prevent others from obstructing the area by parking in it or dumping items there. Even though there should be clear signs, workers will also need to be informed of their location when they are provided with the health and safety training element of their induction. Additionally, there needs to be a suitable number of assembly points to accommodate the number of people that will be gathering there.
It is important that evacuations and other elements of health and safety are carefully planned before an incident takes place. This is because mistakes are likely to be made and extra time needed to evacuate if it is being made up in the midst of an incident taking place. This forward planning should determine things such as who is responsible for conducting fire sweeps of certain areas of the building to ensure everybody has gotten out, who is tasked with performing a roll call at each assembly point, and who is to brief the emergency services on what is happening/has happened. There also needs to be provisions made for anyone who may require assistance in evacuating the building or reaching the assembly area.