Protect Your Employees by Making Sure Your Fire Escapes are Up to Date

Under Australian law, every industrial company needs to implement stringent fire precautions, which include providing a clear, accessible escape route for employees when blazes take root. Specific regulations vary by state, but wherever your company works, owners are liable if employees are harmed by poorly designed or faulty fire escapes.

If your premises haven't updated their precautions or your access rails are in disrepair, now could be the right time to fix them. Here are some key considerations that all industrial companies need to attend to.

Label Fire Exits Properly

One of the most important things to consider is whether all of your fire exits are marked. Any door that is designated as a fire escape needs to have a sign attached that clearly defines its purpose and instructs employees not to keep it open or obstruct it. In NSW, you also need to include a notice stating that each escape complies with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (1979), reminding everyone on site that obstructing or damaging fire doors is a criminal offence.

Choose Doors that Provide Fire Protection

For internal fire escapes (or doors between fire containment rooms), every door needs to be rated for fire-resistance, but exit doors to the outside world do not need to be rated. However, they do need to be equipped with the right locks to comply with the Building Codes of Australia. Choose a push-down opening mechanism like a bar, and go for self-latching doors. At all costs avoid locks that require keys from the inside and make sure the lock you use is no higher than 1.1 metres from the ground.

Install the Right Detectors for Your Industry

Fire detection is also crucial, and all industrial sites are required to install some form of smoke or flame detector. Not all premises will require both, but for many industrial locations a multi-criteria device will make sense. These devices include both heat and smoke sensors, providing all-round coverage where heavy machinery or chemicals are involved.

Provide Easy Access to and From Fire Escapes 

Finally, make sure that your employees can reach fire escapes and make it to safety after they have used them. In many instances, it's a good idea to design fire-proof concrete steps and install handrails that are strong and hard-wearing. Don't leave fire escapes without rails and don't let escapes open onto grass banks or crumbling steps. On both sides of the fire door, you need to protect employees from slips and injuries that could make it harder to evacuate in the event of a fire, so sturdy handrails and solid steps are a must.

Don't take chances with the safety of your employees. The legal implications for non-compliance are severe, but the ethical implications are much more serious. However, with well-marked appropriately chosen fire doors and the right handrails and steps in place, accessing fire escapes should not be a problem.