AUST – Emergency Plan advises that with the implementation of the new version of AS 3745-2010 ‘Planning for emergencies in facilities’, it provides some welcome clarity to the purpose and application compared to the old Standard. The revised Standard provides a more holistic approach and more content on subjects such as the emergency plan and other topics.

Nearly twice as long as its predecessor, the revised Standard takes into consideration the types of emergencies a facility and the Emergency Planning Committee may encounter, places a resource in place to plan for these contingencies and implements the emergency plan through the preparation of a procedure, and an Emergency Control Organisation . These new AS 3745 changes in turn create a more concise explanation of the expectations and responsibilities of building occupants in preparing for emergencies.

In addition to the greater detail and clarity of what is best practice in preparing for emergencies, the new AS 3745 has included several new requirements. The most significant include:

Emergency Planning Committee

Ultimate responsibility lies with the Emergency Planning Committee  under AS 3745 to make the plan work. Even if most work is assigned to professionals external to the facility, the Emergency Planning Committee still has to ensure some of the practical issues are addressed. These include:

  • Disseminating emergency plan information
  • Maintaining Emergency Control Organisation numbers – the Chief Warden is also charged with the responsibility of replacing Emergency Control Organisation members when positions become vacant
  • Maintaining a schedule of training
  • Maintaining a schedule of emergency response exercises
  • Maintaining records.

The wording regarding the indemnity of the Emergency Planning Committee and Emergency Control Organisation has also been changed in the new AS 3745 to recommending that professional advice be sought on the level of indemnity provided to Emergency Planning Committee and Emergency Control Organisation members.

There will be instances of Emergency Planning Committee/Emergency Control Organisation members acting as employees and receiving indemnification from their employers under the respondent superior doctrine, for negligent acts or omissions by their employees in the course of employment. There may also be occasions where Emergency Planning Committee/Emergency Control Organisation members are not employees and cannot rely on an employer being vicariously liable.

Emergency Plan

The revised Emergency Plan as specified in the new AS 3745 brings a new, high level consideration of the needs of the facility. It includes emergency prevention; emergency preparedness; emergency mitigation; and activities that prepare and prevent emergencies – such as training and maintenance. The contents of the emergency plan are detailed, and require elements such as:

  • The Emergency Planning Committee
  • The fire safety and emergency features of the facility
  • Separate sections for:
    • The emergency identification outcomes (that is, what emergencies have been identified as relevant)
    • Emergency Response Procedures – with additional requirements such as Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) for people with disabilities.
    • The Evacuation Diagram
    • Training arrangements
    • Other details of distribution, period of validity, hours of occupancy, date of issue, etc.

Evacuation Diagram

This element of the emergency plan is part of the emphasis imposed on the Emergency Planning Committee designed to disseminate emergency plan information. These are new provisions in AS 3745 for evacuation diagrams that include a pictorial representation of your floor or area that must be oriented to your location with a ‘you are here’ label, and include the location of fire/emergency safety equipment, making virtually each sign unique. While the Emergency Planning Committee determines the location and number of evacuation diagrams, they must be sufficient for occupants and visitors to view under the new AS 3745.

Training

The new AS 3745 requires a great deal of training. Emergency Planning Committee training is required, and one member of the Emergency Planning Committee is required to be ‘a competent person’ as defined by clause 1.4.5.

Emergency Control Organisation Training for members require training specific training to their roles, followed by skill retention training not more than 6 months apart. While the concept and frequency is not new, the training content and adequacy requirements are greatly expanded.

Occupant training needs to be implemented in accordance with the emergency response procedures, followed by skill retention training, not more than 12 months apart.

There is now a specific description of the training material that is to be used with the Emergency Control Organisation and occupants, with the caveat that it be site specific.

Emergency Response Exercises, Section 7 of AS 3745-2010

This section expands on Clause 3.5 of AS 3745-2002, which focused on evacuation exercises. The new wording permits exercises to be conducted that have relevance to emergencies on the site. The clause also details the roles of observers and of the requirements to keep records of actions taken.

The concept of an emergency happening during an emergency response exercise receives mention within the new AS 3745 Standard. The tragic situation where a real emergency is not treated properly when it occurs during an exercise can be avoided by the use of a code word. The standard suggests ‘No duff’ as the code word.

These changes will mean that to comply with the latest best practice guidelines, building owners, managers and employers that comply with AS 3745-2010 will need to:

  • identify the Emergency Planning Committee.
  • train the Emergency Planning Committee and have them agree to details recommended for the Emergency Plan such as schedules of training, emergency response procedures, scope and validity period of the document, recruitment and maintenance of the Emergency Control Organisation
  • write an Emergency Plan
  • update their Emergency Response Procedures with all the new requirements
  • create Evacuation Diagrams (signs)
  • ensure the Emergency Control Organisation training content is aligned with the requirement of the new standard AS 3745-2010.
  • Ensure the program of emergency response exercises is appropriate.

Once enacted, building owners, managers, employers, employees and visitors will have a better understanding under AS 3745 of what to do if an emergency situation occurs.

Building Legislation Table

Refer to our Building Legislation table for further information on the building control process.