Research says elevators may be a safer option to stairs in a high-rise evacation

According to “Experts Reconsider Elevator as Fire Escape”, an article by Anthony M. DeStefano, elevators in skyscrapers may be used in future mass evacuations based on research by a special National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) panel that studied the evacuation of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.

“Don’t use elevators in fires is one of the most successful public education [safety] campaigns in history,” added Jason D. Averill, an expert on fire safety for NIST.  This idea brought about some of Emedco’s most successful signs in glow-in-the-dark and standard sign material – ‘In case of fire, do not use elevators, use stairways’ signsBut due to the events of Sept. 11 and taller buildings sprouting up all over the globe, elevators are being looked at as  safe evacuation option in mass evacuations, especially fires. Major national safety organizations, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), are preparing or proposing standards for the use of elevators in high-rise evacuations.

The elevator push comes after years of analysis of the Twin Towers showed how inadequate stairs were, said Edwin Galea, a professor at the University of Greenwich in England.  NFPA’s life safety code published in 2009 states elevators should be in “noncombustible hoistway” with fire resistant shafts separate from the building.

Currently there is no federal building code that includes elevators in an evacuation process so states and cities are coming up with their own requirements. For example, New York City requires all new high-rise construction to include impact-resistant fire stairs and stairwells must be spaced away from each other.  Also, protected/hardened elevator shafts and vestibules should be available where people can safely wait until it is their turn to evacuate.

It’s important to remember that the use of elevators is still being considered. Take the stairs in case of an emergency in most buildings.

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Kleen Energy cut corners and now faces OSHA’s third highest fine ever

In February, 2010, an explosion at a Kleen Energy construction site in Middletown, CT, killed six workers and injured 50 others.  Three construction companies and fourteen subcontractors were cited for 371 safety violations and are now facing OSHA’s third highest fine ever: $16.6 million.

It was discovered that the company cut corners in order to capitalize on a $19 million incentive if the project was finished ahead of schedule. According to SafetyNewsAlert.com, in the weeks and months leading up to the explosion, employees were working seven-day, 84-hour weeks.

A U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation reported the explosion was most likely caused during a routine practice of cleaning gas fuel piping by using natural gas. The gas found an ignition source, presumably by sparks caused by welding and other work that was being performed nearby.

The explosion at the construction site was felt 40 miles away.

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Did you know about this OSHA regulation?

OSHA requires that your plan-of-action include a way to alert employees – including disabled workers, to evacuate or take action, and how to report emergencies.

Let’s break this down:

1. How do you alert employees including workers who may be hearing impaired? Try a dual Audible and Visual Signal Light that blasts a warning but also blinks brightly enough to catch everyone’s attention.

2. Evacuating and taking action is the easy part! Line your evacuation route with Exit Signs and Glow in the Dark Tape. Do not block fire extinguishers so they are easily visible. Establish a meeting place outside the building and make sure all employees know where it is and to whom to report once they get there.

3. Create an easy and fast way for employees to report emergencies. This procedure works well: in each department, identify an emergency point person and a backup.  The emergency point person is in charge of his/her department roster and ensures all employees from the department have left the building and arrived at the evacuation point. This person should also be the first point of contact for reporting emergencies.  Your emergency point person will contact the other departments to report the emergency and from that point, your company will begin to follow your emergency evacuation plan.

Follow the simple steps above to instantly comply with OSHA regulations.  Avoid fines or worse- injuries and lost time.

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The importance of glow in the dark material

Above are a series of photos showing a stairwells and an exit door in light and dark conditions. In each of these photos, you can clearly see the use of Emedco’s Glow-In-The-Dark Tapes and a couple Glow-In-The-Dark Signs.  The difference between the photos in the light and in the dark are striking – the Tapes are so bright, no other light is needed in the darkened stairwell.  During an evacuation, every second is crucial -by choosing products that glow in the dark, you’re making your exit routes safer for every person in your building.

Stylish evacuation marking

Every building is required to mark evacuation routes in case of an emergency – why not do it with style?

Emedco has a line of Interior Decor Signs that not only glow in the dark for safer evacuations, but contain braille for the visually impaired.  Basically you’re getting 3 signs in 1!

Why these signs are great:

  1. Interior Decor signs are Emedco’s upscale sign, perfect for offices or really any place that has a nicer image than the inside of  a warehouse.
  2. Adding Grade II Braille makes these signs compliant with ADA which improves the safety of the visually impaired who work or visit your building.
  3. Glo-Mor glow-in-the-dark material lights these signs up for over 6 hours and they meet 5 safe evacuation regulations.

The Glo-Mor Braille Interior Signs cannot be scratched or defaced, and they are safer in an emergency than standard non-glow signs.

Fire safety training is important at any age

Students at Albany High School were taught how to use fire extinguishers by firefighters themselves for expert training incomparable to videos or handouts. Starting fire safety training at a young age may increase the likelihood that the lessons will become second nature. If you’re looking to train employees, students, residents or anyone else, Emedco has the products you need to have effective training sessions:

Start preparing now for your next evacuation

The 6.9 earthquake this Sunday reminded of the need for a solid evacuation plan.  I live in an area that rarely feels an earthquake (I think there was a 3.0 when I was in seventh grade) so I’m no expert on earthquake protocol.  What I can tell you about is how important it is to have a safe evacuation assembly area for your employees/residents/visitors. The earthquake in Mexico-southern California occurred on Easter Sunday saving most business from being affected from an evacuation standpoint.  However, if it happened on a weekday and employees weren’t current in their emergency training, the outcome of this earthquake could have been extremely devastating.

Developing an effective, safe evacuation plan needs to happen before the emergency.  Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Do your due diligence: Investigate your facility – mark exit routes, block off a spot in your parking lot for your evacuation assembly area, create an evacuation policy.
  2. Update your emergency equipment and marking products: Get what you don’t have! Refer to my blogs “Create a complete exit, fire & evacuation guidance system” and “Create a safe haven with Evacuation Assembly Area products” for essential products and tips.
  3. Put Evacuation Leads in place: Choose one individual from every department to be the Evacuation Lead for that department.  This person must complete your training and be ready to lead and keep track of his/her department in an emergency situation.
  4. Train the rest of your staff: Go over your policy with all employees in the building. Ensure they know evacuation routes and correct procedure when exiting the building and entering the evacuation assembly area.
  5. Practice! Choose days for drills and enforce your evacuation policy. Go one step further and block an exit door with a “fake fire”, forcing your employees to use their knowledge of other exit routes in your facility.
  6. Debrief after each drill: Learn from problems and mistakes, adjust your policy and procedures as needed.

The goal of every evacuation plan is to get all employees to the evacuation assembly area safely and quickly.  Follow these steps to get your business on the right track.  Bad situations don’t give notice – be ready for anything!