As Health, Safety and Wellbeing (HSW) consultants, we are often asked the question ‘Do organisations need to have emergency wardens and emergency evacuation plans?’
The details of our responses vary depending on the state or territory the organisation in question operates in so it is important that employers understand where obligations start and end.
The reason for these differing responses lies in the fact that the various Australian states and territories have slightly different approaches for legislating and managing fire and emergency response. For example: Queensland, being the only state that has Building Fire Safety Regulations in place, has strong and very specific legal requirements, including the requirement to have a competent trained Fire Safety Advisor when there are 30 staff or more at a location.
However, other states, such as Victoria, have not legislated for specific fire and emergency management requirements in this way. In these states it is left to other, more generic forms of law and guidance to deal with this business requirement.
In Victoria, one of the main approaches is that the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2004 requires employers to provide and maintain a safe workplace to a practicable level, but it does not discuss or deal with things like wardens or evacuation exercises at all.
However, although emergency management is not explicitly stated in the Victorian OHS Act 2004, it is an expected requirement that employers manage emergency hazards, like any other hazard, and ensure they are eliminated or assessed and minimised to a practicable level, so people who attend workplaces are not harmed in an emergency. Further guidance can be sought through Australian Standard AS3745:2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities.
If your organisation needs to develop or improve its activities in emergency management, the Victorian Chamber has partnered with Concept Safety Systems to provide Victorian organisations with a comprehensive and legally compliant online Emergency Management Package that ensures all staff are trained, all diagrams and instructions are developed and an effective emergency strategy is developed.
The Victorian Chamber HSW Consultants can also assess and review existing workplace emergency arrangements, including developing emergency manuals, training wardens and coordinating emergency evacuation exercises.
For more information and registration for this and other HSW support please contact us on 03 8662 5333 or email@example.com to discuss your needs.
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For all other enquiries, please contact the Victorian Chamber on (03) 8662 5333.