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Ensuring staff safety in site evacuation scenarios through simple management technology

22 January 2019

Evacuation drills are considered a nuisance by many as they can disrupt the work day at inconvenient times, and are often met with complacency at the prospect of having to evacuate the building or site, and stand outside for a prolonged period of time. Dan Harding of Sign-In App says that the latest technology can be harnessed to streamline this process and improve site safety.

When it comes to keeping staff on site safe at all times there are particular environments, such as ATEX sites, that clearly have higher risks of fires and other hazards. All businesses have a duty of care to their employees and as such, must ensure that their safety procedures are of the utmost quality. Fire drills and evacuation run-throughs are an obligation that every business must fulfil, and they play a vital role in staff safety. Adequate systems must be in place, and employers must make sure that employees are aware of the appropriate procedures down to the tiniest detail, especially in hazardous environments.  

Outdated procedures

Evacuation drills should be concise and efficient, undertaken as though there is a real emergency to fully prepare in case of a genuine incident. But one of the most critical areas where drills fall down is the gathering of data showing who is present on that day, and the process of trying to ascertain if there is anyone unaccounted for. It is imperative for this step to be completed as quickly as possible to make sure that those who may be in real danger are identified.

Some sites may be so small that who is present on a particular day might be checked fairly easily, but in an emergency is this a system that can be relied upon? The memory of colleagues may stretch far enough to cover regular employees, but what about visitors, maintenance staff and contractors?

Moreover, as team sizes grow, this becomes even more of a challenge and the potential of missing someone is significantly increased, as well as the time it takes to confirm everyone has evacuated the site safely.

The traditional paper and pen sign-in book is an outdated method - not everyone can be trusted to accurately sign in or out when entering and leaving a site. In an emergency situation, who will remember to collect the physical book? And how confident can you be that its contents are accurate?

Also, the impact of GDPR is still fresh and businesses are continuing to take this legislation into account. A physical sign in book will likely not be compliant, however. Names, car registrations, job titles, email addresses – readily available to anyone passing - pose a significant security and compliance risk.

An effective solution

Staff management apps may be an effective replacement for the sign-in book. An accessible management app can provide a clear, single view of all personnel located on site. By logging into an online portal through any mobile or internet-connected device, those with the right authority can view the entire list of people registered as in the building or on site, including visitors and contractors. This solution is particularly useful for fire marshals, who need quick access to these details without the risk and danger of collecting physical records from a site.

To ensure these records are accurate and the system is efficient, staff information can be pre-inputted into the app, so upon arrival they need only click their name and enter their unique code to sign in, or use their individual QR code to scan and sign in or out in seconds. Staff need no longer spend precious minutes laboriously writing down their details, and visitors and contractors do not need to queue at reception to get a printed badge. This can instead be done from a stand-alone device, requiring zero accompanying personnel - ideal in larger site environments where either receptions are redundant or receptionists are busy with other duties.

Reachability

A cloud-based device that updates in real-time allows staff and visitor management to be accessible from anywhere on site. Standalone devices can be installed at key entrances or exits, and at key communal areas to ensure that those on site are never overlooked. Similarly, the online portal can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, so those working with laptops or mobile phones have that option as well. Clearly much more scalable and efficient, this form of solution can effectively cover a large or complicated site with many entrance and exit points.

Conclusion

If safety is to be considered paramount, companies must move forward and embrace technology that will ensure that in the event of a fire or other emergency effective steps are in place to account for everyone on site.

Simple, affordable technology now exists to ensure that when an incident happens, no-one is left behind.

About the author

Dan Harding founded All Things Code, the creators of Sign In App, in 2013 after working at Director level in the IT industry for a number of years. With a keen passion for technology enhancements within business, he is focused on creating and producing software that improves the workplace and employee engagement, to leverage enhanced productivity, safety and continuity.


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