AUST – Emergency Plan audits have revealed misleading exits marked on evacuation diagrams (evacuation signs). The latest version of AS 3745-2010 ‘Planning for emergencies in facilities’ details the requirements of evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs required to alert occupants of essential safety measures in their building. These evacuation signs, also known as evacuation diagrams, include a plan of the floor or area of the building.

The floor plan on the evacuation diagram/evacuation signs is required to show the designated exits. Designated exits include the paths of travel required to fulfil the Building Code of Australia minimum requirements and are based on factors such as the usage of the building, the distance to travel to the exit and the expected number of people occupying the space. These exits can usually be identified by an exit sign above the door.

Recent audits by Emergency Plan have identified evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs that have nominated other doors (i.e. not ‘designated exits’) as exits to be used in an emergency. While other doorways may lead to safe location, it is important that only the designated exits are marked as exits on the evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs. State-based legislation ensures that steps are taken to maintain these exits, enforced by severe penalties if these exits are blocked. If an exit that is not a designated exit is shown on evacuation diagram/evacuation sign, an occupant may assume that the exit is regularly inspected, maintained and easy to find by signage, etc. In reality the path of travel to the doorway may not be regularly checked, may not be clear, may not be easy to find as it has no illuminated emergency lighting or ‘exit’ sign and may no longer lead to a safe place.

The following picture depicts an example of a back door from a retail outlet. This door is marked on the facility’s evacuation diagram as an exit. The door has not been maintained as a designated exit. An occupant trying to use this exit in an emergency may be injured and, due to the erroneous evacuation diagram/evacuation signs. the building owner, occupier, controller and employer may all face subsequent statutory and civil liability.