This time of year is the worst period for bushfires and business owners have a responsibility to ensure that their employees and clients are safe in the event of a fire.
Bushfires can occur anywhere, at any time. They can occur in a regional or semi urban environment and therefore all businesses located in bushfire prone areas have an added responsibility to prepare and implement a bushfire response and associated emergency plans.
Bushfire safety plans need to consider preparation for days of high fire danger and what to do in the event of a bushfire. Prior to writing a plan, it is crucial to understand the level of bushfire risk at your location, the expected fire danger ratings and what actions are the most appropriate to suit the risks.
Your bushfire response and emergency plan should include the following:
- What are the restrictions that will impact the business on days of a Total Fire Ban?
- Prepare bushfire safety procedures with regard to the advice given for the various Fire Danger Ratings. Procedures may vary according to the level of the Fire Danger Rating.
- Plan to restrict or avoid unnecessary travel on days of Total Fire Ban.
- Who will be in charge during a fire or an evacuation?
- Evacuation routes and emergency assembly sites.
- How and who will communicate with employees and visitors during a fire.
- How and who will check that records and other business assets are safe.
- Pay entitlements and leave arrangements for employees should they be stood down or told not to report to work because of a fire threat (and let them know in advance).
- Consider whether your employees have a role in emergency response. If so, ensure that your plan includes the necessary resourcing and staffing to carry out these essential duties.
- Consider whether your personnel or clients are vulnerable or have special needs.
- Train your staff in bushfire safety procedures. Practise your plan to ensure that individuals are familiar with bushfire survival actions.
Ensure that your bushfire response and emergency plan is maintained, updated and tested regularly.
In addition to the above:
- Consider whether your worksite has a defendable space with at least 20 metres cleared of flammable materials and vegetation.
- Does your business or worksite have the resources, equipment and water supply to effectively fight a fire?
- Prepare and maintain Emergency Kits as appropriate to your operations and staffing levels. Prepare and maintain communication equipment. Keep mobile phones charged and operating.
- Maintain and regularly test firefighting equipment.
- Prepare and maintain vehicles and machinery. Remember to keep fuel tanks filled.