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Emergencies and visitors

There are many different types of emergency situations, including fire or explosion, dangerous chemical release, medical emergency, natural disaster, bomb threats, violence or robbery.

Customers visiting the workplace need to be instructed on emergency procedures and accounted for in an evacuation.

Tips

  • Have a visitor sign-in induction process.
  • Induct contractors in emergency protocols.

Potential harm

  • Delay in evacuation

Identified hazards and controls

Emergency evacuations involving visitors

Cause

  • Visitors unaware of what to do in an evacuation.
  • Inadequately trained staff in the evacuation process.
  • Emergency exits are not visible or accessible.
  • Lack of emergency procedures and programs.

What workers can do

  • If you work in the reception area, you need to be aware of the emergency procedures and undertake training to keep yourself safe and other people visiting the reception area safe.

What employers can do

  • Have a procedure and process in place for signing in visitors and inducting them into the workplace.
  • Ensure that workers who may be responsible for assisting visitors evacuate in an emergency are properly trained.
  • Check that emergency procedures are visible and easily understood for visitors to follow in the event of an emergency.
  • Have a process to account for all visitors and staff in and after an evacuation.
  • Install emergency exit signs and make sure they are illuminated.
  • Clearly mark emergency exits and make sure they are not blocked and are easily accessible.
  • Develop appropriate emergency procedures and programs.
  • Conduct regular emergency evacuation drills to test procedures, programs and systems.
  • Ensure emergency contacts receive appropriate training to coordinate emergency responses.

More information

Legislation

  • Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011
    • Refer to part 3.2, division 2 General working environment.
    • Refer to part 3.2, division 4, regulation 43 Emergency plans which outlines the duty to have an emergency plan in place for the workplace. It provides specific matters that must be included, such as an effective response to an emergency, evacuation procedures, notification to emergency services, medical assistance, clear and effective communication, testing of procedures, and information and training.

Codes

  • Managing the Work Environment and Facilities Code of Practice 2015
    • Section 5 Emergency plans outlines what is required to meet the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 43.
    • Section 5.1 details that emergency procedures should ensure that roles and responsibilities for specific actions in an emergency are clearly allocated and to people with appropriate skills. The example used is the appointment of an ‘area warden’.
    • Appendix A provides a Work Environment and Facilities checklist for emergency plans.
Page last reviewed: 05 May 2021

Comcare (Office Safety tool)
GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 | www.comcare.gov.au

Date printed 29 Jun 2022

https://www.comcare.gov.au/office-safety-tool/spaces/reception-areas/emergencies-and-visitors