AUST – Hendry advises that property owners and managers should ensure that leases not only cover the safety of occupants in an emergency, but also include emergency plan and emergency response procedures obligations for occupants to participate in emergency planning as required by AS 3745-2010 ‘Planning for emergencies in facilities’. Emergency situations in a workplace can develop from a number of causes. The occupant’s awareness of emergency response procedures and emergency preparedness will directly affect their ability to minimise loss and suffering. Careful planning through the development of an emergency plan under AS 3745-2010 can reduce the impact of emergencies that may pose a threat to life, health or property, and part of this process is the engagement of stakeholders, including tenants, in the development of emergency response procedures. AS 3745-2010 states: “Emergency response procedures shall take into consideration such factors as the use and characteristics of the buildings, structures and workplaces, appropriateness and adequacy of physical facilities, organisational buildings, structures and workplaces, human resources and communication systems for all envisaged emergencies.” If property owners/ managers use the lease to require tenants to participate in preparing plans, providing fire wardens to be trained (warden training) as part of the Emergency Control Organisation and so forth, it will be much easier to meet the requirements of AS 3745.
The impact of an emergency can be reduced if an emergency plan process in which prevention, response and recovery is well coordinated through the development of emergency response procedures. The purpose of an emergency plan is to bring a measure of control and order to an emergency as required by AS 3745.
Emergencies could be (but are not limited to):
- Fire or explosion.
- Hazardous substance incident.
- Chemical, biological or radiological.
- Medical emergency.
- Bomb threat.
- Personal Threat (Armed or Unarmed).
- Vital services failure (Gas, Water, Electricity etc.).
- Structural instability.
- Civil Disorder.
- Flood, wind storm or other natural event.
- Transport accident.
- Toxic emission.
Whilst each emergency is unique and will occur in different circumstances, there are a number of features common to all emergencies for which emergency mitigation arrangements can be made under AS 3745, including emergency response procedures, can be developed including:
- Roles and responsibilities.
- Notification and reporting arrangements.
- Actions to identify the level of risk.
- Actions required to maintain the safety of those involved.
- Liaison with emergency services and other agencies.
- Assessment of impact of event on those involved.
An AS 3745 emergency plan should also be:
- Flexible to allow personnel to adapt to the changing circumstances of an emergency situation or fire evacuation.
- Readily obtainable to all employees.
- Appropriate to the size, complexity and hours of occupancy of the workplace.
- Appropriate to the number and type of occupants.
- Regularly tested and reviewed through the conduct of evacuation exercises.
- Easily amended.