How to Evacuate a Construction Site Quickly
The Challenge: Evacuating the site quickly in an organized fashion to avoid injury and property damage.
The Solution: Have a site-specific evacuation plan tailored for different types of emergencies. Select a plan according to the threat. (Note that in some situations, such as indirect terrorist threats and flooding of adjacent streets, it is safer to shelter in place. If that is the case, move to highest ground or a location that provides the most protection.)
- Notify emergency services by calling 911.
- Use public address, distinctive alarms and radio systems to indicate an evacuation is underway.
- Remind employees not to run.
- If the threat is to physical structures, turn off all utilities.
- Move wounded employees to safety if it can be done without causing further injury.
- Have operators/drivers move heavy equipment and vehicles as far from threat as possible, including taking them to high ground in the event of flooding.
- Have preselected individuals do a sweep of their areas to make sure everyone has evacuated. Have another team account for employees at the designated safe location.
Be Aware: Planning in advance is critical. Coordinate with emergency services beforehand so supervisors and employees know approximate response time and where emergency responders will most likely enter the job site. Make evacuation plans part of the written safety manual and conduct periodic drills. Post evacuation maps around the job site and include two possible routes from every location. (These will change as the project advances.) If 911 service is not available, post telephone numbers of fire, police and ambulance services.
Kim Slowey is a writer who has been active in the construction industry for 25 years and is licensed as a certified general contractor in Florida. She received her BA in Mass Communications/Journalism from the University of South Florida and has experience in both commercial and residential construction.