Fire alarms ring throughout the building and emergency lights begin flashing. People try rushing to safety. They look around the facility but see no obvious exit. How do they get out? Public buildings that meet code will have an egress plan.
An Egress plan is a map of a facility that houses critical indicators such as posted emergency routes, evacuation paths and red exit signs that lead to stairs and doorways. Even if occupants have never done a fire drill at the facility, it should be obvious where to go.
But many facilities don’t have a strategy in place to point staff and occupants to safety. According to a report commissioned by the U.S. Fire Administration, only about 35 percent of office buildings have evacuation plans.
Why Updated Egress Plans are Important
Egress plans are required by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and, for healthcare facilities, the Joint Commission. You’ve probably seen them posted around your facility, but many building teams can’t recall when they were last updated.
This is an issue because even the most routine changes can impact egress plans, including:
Changing ways the space is used, such as from an office to a supply closet
Rearranging furniture, such as a bookcase being moved in front of an egress window
Building remodels and expansions, such as replacing doors with walls or windows
Moving to a new office space
Landscaping changes, which could block egress doors and windows from being opened and providing a safe exit route for people of all abilities
How do I create an egress plan?
Keeping these plans updated is simple, so facility managers don’t have an excuse for putting occupants at risk should an emergency happen, whether that’s a fire, explosion or other threat. Use these six easy steps to create or update your facility plans in our free guide on How to Create An Egress Plan.