Recent changes to the Emergency Plan requirements in NSW are in effect now and are likely to soon be mirrored in all jurisdictions so now is the time for all businesses to review their obligations in the area of Emergency Plans.

Nationwide

All workplaces must have an Emergency Plan which details the potential emergency situations the staff and site might face, as well as procedures and equipment for responding to these emergencies.  The Emergency Plan provides information to staff on what to do in the event of an emergency, but it also provides first responders information on the disposition of the workplace and its hazards that can be vital to addressing the emergency as well as protecting the responders themselves.

Emergency Plans must include contact details and site plans that show the hazards, the emergency equipment, the evacuation routes, the cross street/s and true north.

In a fuel wholesale or retail workplace the Emergency Plan must also include detailed manifest information as well as showing tank locations on the site plan.

There is a requirement that the staff at the workplace be trained in the content of the Emergency Plan and that a copy of the Plan be available to the staff where they work.  In a fuel retail environment it is common to see a full Emergency Plan behind the console along with the abridged “flipchart”.

In most jurisdictions in Australia there is a requirement for fuel wholesale and retail businesses to lodge their Emergency Plan with the emergency services, a requirement to keep proof of lodgement and a requirement to notify of any changes.

It is important to review the Emergency Plan when the circumstances at the workplace change, such as when new neighbour businesses move in, as well as at regular time intervals to ensure the most current information and best practice responses are worked into the Emergency Plan.

When the Emergency Plan has been updated it is important to communicate any changes to the staff and to lodge the updated Plan with the emergency services where appropriate.

In NSW

Under clause 43 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 all fuel wholesale and retail businesses must provide a copy of their Emergency Plan to Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW).

For NSW Major Hazard Facilities

In an effort to improve the communication of important information to first responders NSW Fire has confirmed the requirement for all Emergency Plans at Major Hazard Facilities (such as refineries and larger fuel wholesalers) to include an Emergency Services Information Package (ESIP) and has released a comprehensive guide for the development and lodgement of ESIP.

It is important to note that the ESIP is a document for firefighter, and is not intended to be part of the Emergency Plan for staff.

An ESIP is a separate portable folder to be lodged with the Emergency Plan (and stored in the manifest box) that contains information necessary to allow emergency services to commence operations and develop effective strategies and tactics to manage a fire or emergency incident.

The ESIP should be concise and easy to read and as a minimum should contain a basic overview of the workplace, contact details and schematic drawings.  The ESIP should provide guidance to the incident commander on specific tasks critical to safely managing the emergency – such as occupant evacuation route, emergency shutdown procedures and instructions, firefighting equipment or access onsite etc.

The ESIP must be in an A3 plastic covered D ring binder (portrait), clearly identified as Emergency Services Information Package (ESIP), with all pages laminated and able to be removed from the ESIP individually.  There are further prescriptions around the size of font and the inclusions of the ESIP which Fire & Rescue NSW has provided extensive detail on in the Fire Safety Guideline: Emergency Services Information Package and Tactical Fire Plans:  http://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/gallery/files/pdf/guidelines/guidelines_ESIP_and_TFP.pdf

Fire & Rescue NSW notes that while the Guideline has been developed for multiple business types most businesses ESIP will be a simple summary of information already contained within the Emergency Plan, simply provided in a format that the emergency services can more readily use.

Given the generally harmonised nature of workplace safety it is anticipated that similar requirements will flow through to other jurisdictions in time.

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