Sometimes there are unanticipated consequences when a major change is made to a system - like going all electronic for time-keeping. I’m sure the payroll department wasn’t really thinking about evacuation drills when they went paperless.
We have a very rigid sign-in/sign-out policy for visitors, and visitors are assigned a “host”; tech reps, repair crews etc. must have someone assigned to track them. If a building evacuation happens, visitors must evacuate with the host and be accounted for by security. California fire regulations are very specific about getting everyone out and accounting for everyone so we try to get it right. And we have a very (very!) loud evacuation alarm so nobody really wants to stay around for that.
We use electronic timekeeping as well, but that’s not how we account for who’s present for evacuation purposes. Supervisors keep updated evacuation rosters nearby, plus we have an effective group of floor wardens that keeps an eye out for people. We generally get 120 or so people out of the building within a couple of minutes, and have all the rosters back a few minutes after that to tally up the numbers. Time is money so we don’t want to take a lot of time.
So now’s your opportunity to re-invent a building evacuation accounting system. And that’s what fire drills and after-action reports are for, to identify and correct problems. If you need some teeth for your after-action recommendations, you could always invite the fire department to observe your next evacuation exercise.
Eric Clark, MS, CHMM, CCHO
Safety Officer, Public Health Scientist III
Los Angeles County Public Health Laboratory
Just wondering about sign-in/sign-out policies.
My organization moved away from serial sign-in/out on a physical piece of paper (which could be picked up and carried outside) to electronic timekeeping.
So now there is no hard-copy/physical record of who’s in the building. In the event of an emergency evacuation, the team supervisor could use the sign-in/out book to do a head-count was very efficient.
We actually ran evacuation drills, having a chemist stay in the lab, to see how long it took the supervisor to recognize their absence.
I’m not concerned with time and attendance (the new system works fine). But I have staff leave the building for lunch or other reasons during the day and really think being able to account for people in an emergency is important. I also know I have to follow negotiated contract obligations.
Do other organizations share my concern for accounting for staff and what do you do?
Dean R. Lillquist, PhD, CIH
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