The health, safety and wellbeing of children is the primary responsibility of Early Childhood Educators and Child Care providers. To make it easy for providers to keep their charges safe, the industry needs clarity around where Evacuation Diagrams should be placed and how many are required. We need to remove as much “interpretation” as possible from the three documents that reference the requirements for, the placement of, and the responsibility for Evacuation Diagrams.
One would believe that with all these words surrounding such an important aspect of Emergency Management, that the understanding would be clear. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
The three main reference documents on this subject are:
- AS 3745-2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities
- BFSR-2008: Building Fire Safety Regulations – (Queensland Only)
- Education and Care Services National Regulations 2012.
We have listed extracts from the relevant documents to attempt to answer the question:
Where should evacuation diagrams be displayed and how many are required?
Within this Australian Standard, which is referenced by the Workplace Health and Safety ACT, the number and location of Evacuation Diagrams is defined by each organisation’s Emergency Planning Committee (EPC). Evacuation Diagrams should be displayed in locations where occupants and visitors are able to view them.
BFSR-2008 (Queensland only)
Evacuation Diagrams must be displayed along the path to each exit of the building and must be displayed in a conspicuous position. The number of Final Exits to the building must be considered when determining the number of Evacuation Diagrams to display.
The approved provider of an education and care service must ensure that a copy of the emergency and evacuation floor plan and instructions are displayed in a prominent position near each exit at the education and care service premises.
Over the past 12 months we here at Australian Compliance Management (ACM) have had countless numbers of URGENT enquiries from our Childcare provider clients, seeking additional evacuation diagrams to be displayed adjacent to ALL doors of a Childcare Centre, including:
- Toilets, and all
- Storage Cupboards.
All these requests have referenced the National Regulations and in particular, Regulation 97.4 It should also be noted that in most cases, these enquiries have come from our NSW and Victorian Centres. In all cases, the Department appointed Authorised Officer has assumed from the regulations that “Each Exit” means literally every exit from every room within the Centre. ACM believes that this confusion comes from the lack of definition within the Regulations of what an Exit is.
In both the Australian Standard and Queensland’s Building Fire Safety Regulation, an Exit or Final Exit is defined as being an exit to a place of safety outside the building.
To assist our clients, our team at ACM approached ACECQA for some guidance on this particular question and were directed to some individual State Based Fact Sheets on this topic:
- Queensland: The Department of Education has posted a fact sheet on this topic. Click here to read the fact sheet.
- New South Wales: The NSW Education Department has published a Resource Guide around Emergency and Evacuation Floor Plans and this document further clarifies where the Evacuation Diagrams should be placed. Click here to read the resource guide.
Services should note that section 2 reflects the requirements of Regulation 97 that evacuation diagrams be placed at each exit of your service premises (i.e. the doors that are used to exit and enter your service premises.
Here at ACM, we would advocate for a more rational and safe approach by requesting the Authorised Officer to take note of the actual content of the Evacuation Diagrams, the current location of the Diagrams, and attempt to evacuate the building given the information provided. This will allow them to make a common-sense, logical decision on whether there is adequate information provided to facilitate an evacuation, rather than quoting Regulation 97 and threatening a breach should the provider not place a diagram next to each door and cupboard in the facility.
In conducting an assessment, perhaps the Authorised Officer could consider the policies, systems, and training in place to ensure staff, clients and visitors are up to the task of evacuating everyone safely in the event of an emergency. Systems like PlanSafe provide a Best Practice solution for the Childcare Industry and should be assessed accordingly.
The NSW Resource Guide referenced above refers to a handy Evacuation Diagram Checklist which goes through all aspects of what an evacuation diagram should contain. Our team of Designers have come across many wide and varied designs and interpretations of what an Evacuation Diagram should look like.
Looking for some help with this?
Should you need some assistance in preparing compliant Evacuation Diagrams, do not hesitate to contact us here at Australian Compliance Management. We have a team of designers and guides who live and breathe Fire Safety and Emergency Management, state of the art, fully compliant Emergency Evacuation Diagrams, and online learning solutions.