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Evacuation Signs: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a muster point?

A muster point is a location in an organization/facility where everyone assembles in the event of an emergency. Muster points are at a safe distance from the worksite and clear of additional hazards. At muster points, evacuated people receive information and instructions and undergo a headcount before any kind of rescue operation is initiated. It is an important aspect that muster point and the routes leading to it must be clearly marked with Muster Point Signs and easily found during night or day.

Q. What are the types of workplace emergencies that require evacuation?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the following are the types of emergencies that require evacuation -
Chemical spills
Terrorist attacks
Toxic Gas Release
Radiological Accidents
Civil Disturbances
Workplace Violence
The American Red Cross also includes Landslide, Poisoning, Power Outage, Tsunami, Volcano, Water Safety, Wildfire, Winter Storm, in its categories of emergencies.

Q. What is the difference between vertical evacuation and horizontal evacuation?

Horizontal evacuation - is evacuating people out of the area, usually to another unit or section on the same floor. The occupants move away from the area of imminent danger (like fire) to a safe distance (i.e., another wing, the opposite end of the corridor, or outside).
Vertical evacuation - is moving people downward or to higher areas of a structure using stairs and taking them away from wherever the threat is approaching.

Q. What is included in an evacuation map?

Every evacuation map varies from property to property, depending on the type of construction and primary work being performed. However, some common components of these maps include:
Employee location, "you are here"
Rooms, doors, hallways, stairwells
Exits and handicapped accessible routes
Location of fire extinguishers and other emergency equipment such as AEDs, PPE, first aid, spill kits, and oxygen tanks
Fire alarm locations
Muster Point
Roof accessibility

Q. What are OSHA requirements for evacuation in an emergency?

OSHA addresses the topic of Evacuation Planning in its standard 1910.38. The key requirement for businesses regarding evacuation is that every employer must have an Emergency Action Plan. This plan can be communicated orally if the employee count is less than 10. But with a higher employee count, the plan must be written and well documented. According to the plan, employers must have -
An installed and maintained employee alarm system
Employee emergency evacuation training along with periodic review
A means of reporting emergencies
Detailed evacuation procedures and assignments for emergency egress routes
Detailed procedures for employees who must stay behind to shut down plant operations before evacuating
Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation
First aid and rescue duties required for appointed employees
A contact list for emergency personnel and employee emergency contact persons
Complete details can be accessed on the OSHA site .

Q. Where should evacuation signs be placed?

Evacuation signs like Assembly Point Signs , Area of Refuge Signs, Evacuation Maps, etc., must be mounted in all such locations where employees are reminded of emergency evacuation protocols. For example -
-High traffic areas
-Exit ways
-Bulletin boards in hallways
They should be mounted throughout the emergency exit route directing everyone to the nearest exit. Evacuation Signs are very important in places where emergency exits are not in sight and in well-lit spaces. Evacuation signs must be posted in all multi-story offices, buildings, hotels, apartments, hospitals, educational institutes, movie theatres, and more.
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