May 2014 Newsletter

Who would think we are about to enter the winter months already? Where is this year going?

I know one thing that is keeping us busy and that is the constant change that is happening with legislation. Thought we would share one that is important to all of you, regardless of the size of business you work in. Emergency preparedness is something we are constantly focusing on, so these will be significant changes to some businesses out there.

From May 1, 2014, amendment 1 of Australian Standard 3745-2010: Planning for Emergencies in Facilities replaces the existing standard of the same name. Prior to its publishing, the amendment has been in “draft review” format since mid-2013.

So what amendments have been made to the standard? Let’s take a look at the major changes, and how they affect you:

1. Emergency Planning Consultants

The amendment introduces the “Emergency Planning Consultant”. The terms refers to emergency planning specialists with “the knowledge and skill enabling him/her to advise on human behavior, fire safety systems, evacuation methodology, emergency preparedness and response and the development of an emergency plan”.

A person gains “Emergency Planning Consultant” status through acquiring training, education, qualification and experience relevant to emergency planning.

The Impact on You

Be careful of imposters!

The standard makes no reference as to the technical level that a person must be to be considered an “Emergency Planning Consultant”.

Be sure to ask what qualifications your Emergency Planning Consultant holds. In Queensland, for example, your consultant must hold a valid Fire Safety Advisor (FSA) qualification. The FSA qualification is also best practice outside of Queensland.

Also consider asking for your consultant’s licenses and experience. The last thing you want to be doing is taking life safety advice from someone who doesn’t have a full understanding of emergency planning.

2. Emergency Plans and Emergency Response Procedures

The amendment states in writing a few additional elements that the emergency plan should now reference.

Some examples of the changes include:

a)      Inclusion of maintenance and routine servicing requirements of the plan

b)      Broader definitions of emergency features, which now include safety and security considerations in addition to fire safety.

c)       Inclusion of a separate section for the emergency response exercises.

The Impact on You

Consider reviewing your emergency plan against the amended standard to ensure that you cover everything that is required.

Remember that the standard lists quite a few strict elements that are required to be included within your emergency plan. Note a thought is that if your plan is less than 80 – 100 pages, you probably aren’t covering off everything you need to!

3. Emergency Evacuation Diagrams and Signs

The requirements for emergency evacuation diagrams and signs have perhaps seen the biggest of changes in the amendment.

  • Building specific emergency evacuation procedures should now be included on the diagrams.
  • Fire hydrants are no longer a required element within the diagrams, and are now optional.
  • External elements of the plan (such as landscaping, fences etc.) should not be included on the diagrams, unless they form part of the egress path.
  • Larger facilities (such as hospitals, universities and shopping centers) should prepare their diagrams in sections, showing no more than 2 exits on each section.
  • The size requirements of the diagrams have changed. Where only minimum elements are being shown on the diagram, the diagrams must be at least A4 in size, with the floor plan at least 30,000mm2 in size. Where there are also optional elements shown on the diagram, the diagram must be at least A3 in size, with the floor plan component at least 60,000mm2.
  • Finally, a number of the standard’s icons have changed, and they have included a new icon for evacuation devices.

4. Evacuation Exercises

The amendment to AS3745-2010 has introduced some interesting changes to evacuation exercises.

  • First of which, the initial emergency response exercise for the building may be simulated, in order to test the procedures and the ECO members.
  • For ongoing exercises, all areas of the building must participate in at least one evacuation exercise each year. These exercises must involve an evacuation of the building.
  • The required time frame remains unchanged as being at “least” annually.

I am sure there will be some further discussion about this when you start to read through this and think what is around your workplace.

We have also had a few “draft” changes from the WHS Act 2011 come into effect as of May 16th and happy to send these through to any of you that requests it.

As we said in the beginning of this newsletter “changes” are happening all the time, so I hope this assists you in ensuring you are doing as much as “reasonably practicable” to stay on top of your requirements. Until next month stay safe.

Remember if there is anything you need assistance with, you know who to contact!!!

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