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Australian Standard (AS) 3745-2010 Planning for emergencies in facilities gives strict guidelines at Section 5.6 on the criteria required for nomination of person to participate as a member of the Emergency Control Organisation.

Under Section 5.6.4 (d) a person must “be capable of communicating with occupants and visitors”. While it is commendable for a person with a hearing impairment to volunteer to act as a Warden the impairment could create difficulties in receiving or passing on critical information to or from occupants. Failure of a Warden to be able to give or receive information in a timely manner to occupants during an incident that impacts on their building could place other occupants at risk of harm.

For the overall safety of building occupants the selection of a person with a hearing impairment must be disallowed as they would not meet the selection criteria as defined in AS 3745-2010.

The following is an extract for AS 3745-2010:
 

Australian Standard 3745-2010
 

5.6 SELECTION CRITERIA FOR ECO MEMBERS
 

5.6.1 Chief Warden

The person appointed as chief warden should—

(a) be capable of performing their duties;

(b) be capable of leading and taking command;

(c) display effective decision-making skills;

(d) demonstrate the capability to remain calm under pressure;

(e) be available to undertake their appointed duties;

(f) be capable of effectively communicating with occupants and visitors;

(g) be familiar with the facility; and

(h) be able to undergo relevant training.

5.6.2 Communications officer

The person appointed as communications officer should—

(a) be capable of performing their duties;

(b) display effective decision-making skills;

(c) demonstrate the capability to remain calm under pressure;

(d) be available on-site to undertake their appointed duties;

(e) be capable of effectively communicating with occupants and visitors; and

(f) be able to undergo relevant training.
 

5.6.3 Floor or area wardens

Floor or area wardens should be appointed consistent with the level of their day-to-day responsibilities.

The floor or area warden responsibilities should be attached to a specific position, to ensure where possible, that the person appointed to the position, in either a permanent or temporary capacity, carries out the necessary functions.

Persons appointed as floor/area wardens should—

(a) be capable of performing their duties;

(b) have leadership qualities and the ability to command authority;

(c) display effective decision-making skills;

(d) demonstrate the capability to remain calm under pressure;

(e) be available on-site to undertake their appointed duties;

(f) be capable of effectively communicating with occupants and visitors;

(g) be capable of deputizing for other positions on the ECO; and

(h) be able to undergo relevant training.

 

5.6.4 Wardens

Persons appointed as wardens should—

(a) be capable of performing their duties;

(b) have leadership qualities and command authority;

(c) be available to undertake their appointed duties;

(d) be capable of communicating with occupants and visitors;

(e) be capable of deputizing for other positions; and

(f) be able to undergo relevant training.

5.6.5 Deputies

The appointment of deputies shall be considered, to ensure the effective functioning of the ECO. Persons appointed as deputies shall have the same capabilities and personal attributes as required for the substantive position.

Yes, they can but generally under the direction of the Chief Warden. If there is a weather issue such as rain or extreme heat the Chief Warden must take this in to consideration and advise all occupants where the assembly area would be relocated to. 

If a person is to leave the assembly area then they must notify their Floor Warden or Warden on where they are going so that they are to be able to be accounted for. They must be contactable so that they can be advised when they can return to the building.

 

 

 

There is nothing in standards or legislation that directly impact on this issue.  It becomes more an OH&S issue that should be addressed by each individual tenant/company in a building.

We advise that in high rise buildings female staff members have a pair of flat shoes or runners at their work station to be used in the event of an evacuation (direction to do so on this issue must come from the employer as a company OH&S requirement).  Notwithstanding that, the procedure that must be followed by all staff members during an evacuation through the emergency exits is that they must proceed in single file and they must at all times maintain contact with the handrail.  By doing so, should they lose their footing they then can regain their balance by firmly gripping the handrail.

Should a Warden notice a person is holding up the progress of an evacuation because of their footwear then the Warden should direct the person to stand to the side on a landing until all other occupants have passed then proceed at their own speed down the stair (they have a right to do so and the person must comply with the request). Otherwise Wardens can recommend that the person remove their footwear for their own safety but cannot legally force them to do so.

 

The level of training that is provided to employees in the use of fire extinguishers is relevant to the risk posed within the workplace (type of occupation and characteristics of employees). It ranges from commercial enterprises where there would be very early recognition of an incident when a fire was in its incipient stage and may only need an action like turning off of electrical power to a piece of electronic equipment to resolve the issue to a service station employee where, if a fire was to start, it will in most case involve a large rapidly developing fire.

In the event of fire occurring within a single level commercial building where the means of egress are well maintained and they are varied there is a very low risk level for employees (they have the opportunity to walk away from the situation).  In this instance a simple one on one show and tell scenario in the identification and use of installed fire extinguishers may suffice with the proviso, if in doubt get out.

In a high rise commercial building the risk to an employee increases with the height of the facility and the reliance on restricted means of egress (possibly only one or two fire isolated stairways). While the risk is again low, because in most cases it will be a slowly evolving fire, the level of training would increase to a structured presentation in the basic chemistry of fire, identification of installed fire equipment and the safe means to operate the fire equipment.  This could be covered in several ways, a training session conducted by a competent person using a power point presentation, a good quality video presentation or a level of hands on training experience using Virtual Reality where the trainee is using a device but it is confined to a clean environment (no discharge of an extinguishing agent).

In a workplace where there is a possibility of a fire occurring and rapidly escalating there is a need for practical experience in the training.  This would involve a theoretical presentation on the basics of the chemistry of fire and the hands on use of fire extinguishers. Again the level of risk identifies the means of educating the employee.  It can be using an LP Gas system which minimises the environmental impact while still giving the employees a confidence in the use of the fire equipment to the use of petroleum based products in larger fire trays (not environmentally friendly but a necessity in some cases).

In summary, whilst the degree of training is relative to the risk posed by the type of premises and occupation, some employers prefer to go one step higher than what is needed to ensure compliance. Most of the major supermarket chains ensure all their employees have hands on training on hot fires. They to their credit take Workplace Health and Safety quite seriously and know that even in a small fire situation there is a risk of harm and or duress to members of the public and employees.

This opinion is based on the principal of action taken in the event of fire relative to the workplace type and the safety of employees and does not take into account monetary or business continuity loss from either failure to intervene in a fire or not having comparative experience in the use of the installed fire equipment.  It also does not address the other critical element, that as a minimum all employees must be trained in evacuation procedures comparative to their workplace.

You must meet the selection criteria as required under Australian Standard (AS) 3745-2010.

Extracts from AS 3745-2010 follow:
 

AS 3745-2010

5.6 SELECTION CRITERIA FOR ECO MEMBERS

5.6.1 Chief warden

The person appointed as chief warden should—

(a) be capable of performing their duties;

(b) be capable of leading and taking command;

(c) display effective decision-making skills;

(d) demonstrate the capability to remain calm under pressure;

(e) be available to undertake their appointed duties;

(f) be capable of effectively communicating with occupants and visitors;

(g) be familiar with the facility; and

(h) be able to undergo relevant training.
 

5.6.2 Communications officer

The person appointed as communications officer should—

(a) be capable of performing their duties;

(b) display effective decision-making skills;

(c) demonstrate the capability to remain calm under pressure;

(d) be available on-site to undertake their appointed duties;

(e) be capable of effectively communicating with occupants and visitors; and

(f) be able to undergo relevant training

5.6.3 Floor or area wardens

Floor or area wardens should be appointed consistent with the level of their day-to-day responsibilities.

The floor or area warden responsibilities should be attached to a specific position, to ensure where possible, that the person appointed to the position, in either a permanent or temporary capacity, carries out the necessary functions.

Persons appointed as floor/area wardens should—

(a) be capable of performing their duties;

(b) have leadership qualities and the ability to command authority;

(c) display effective decision-making skills;

(d) demonstrate the capability to remain calm under pressure;

(e) be available on-site to undertake their appointed duties;

(f) be capable of effectively communicating with occupants and visitors;

(g) be capable of deputizing for other positions on the ECO; and

(h) be able to undergo relevant training.

5.6.4 Wardens

Persons appointed as wardens should—

(a) be capable of performing their duties;

(b) have leadership qualities and command authority;

(c) be available to undertake their appointed duties;

(d) be capable of communicating with occupants and visitors;

(e) be capable of deputizing for other positions; and

(f) be able to undergo relevant training.

5.6.5 Deputies

The appointment of deputies shall be considered, to ensure the effective functioning of the ECO. Persons appointed as deputies shall have the same capabilities and personal attributes as required for the substantive position.

To be compliant ALL Wardens must attend a skills session at intervals of not greater than 6-months.  All Wardens MUST participate in one full evacuation exercise in each 12 month period.

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