emergency planning committee meetingNo matter the nature of a particular facility in Australia. Individuals (PCBU) are responsible for the facility, its occupants, and visitors. They must organise an emergency planning committee (EPC) for each facility/s.

The EPC may be constituted for a single facility or a collection of facilities. EPCs must be appropriate for the facility in question. Those accountable for a facility or its residents must guarantee that the EPC has sufficient resources to prepare and implement an emergency plan.

Specific Objectives of the emergency planning committee

Resources include time, money, equipment, and people; all require a legal standard to be met by the emergency planning committee. Individuals (PCBU) responsible for a facility or its tenants and leases should ensure the EPC is planning emergency activities such as evacuation drills.

The inhabitants of a facility are usually managed by building/facility owners, agents, occupiers, lessors, or employers. The EPC should consider the need for specialised expert advice when putting the plan together.

Note: Theoretically, the EPC should meet and perform the appropriate functions as an individual business entity, depending on the style and type of business. Each committee may be a little different but ensures that they achieve appropriate outcomes.

The key to success is the empowerment of the EPC by executive personnel. Some low-risk organisations may find it sufficient to set up the EPC as part of the Health and Safety Committee (good leadership required). Furthermore, this could be problematic in some circumstances due to general outcomes that may potentially conflict. Thus reducing the importance of good emergency management strategies. 

Managers of such committees should ensure Emergency Planning is conducted on its own and isolated from the primary function of a Health & Safety Committee. Maybe as a sub-committee of the Health and Safety committee.

planning for an emergency

The duties and responsibilities of the EPC

The Emergency Management Committee is responsible for creating and implementing the plan. Also, maintaining the emergency response protocols and training (as required). In conjunction with the business’s owners, managers, occupiers, and other employers.

The EPC must inform the facility’s managers of its findings if they threaten its residents and visitors. A general risk analysis will achieve this, and cooperative efforts with relevant outside organisations could accomplish this.

The following are responsibilities that the EPC must fulfil.

Identifying situations with a high probability of developing into urgent incidents—putting together a plan for dealing with unexpected events per Section 3 of AS 3745. Ensuring that resources are available so the emergency plan may be developed and implemented. Resources include time, budget, equipment and staff etc.

It establishes when the emergency plan and the evacuation diagram will be in effect. The validity of the plan should not be more than five years. However, it could be shorter than five years if necessary to meet the needs of a maintenance cycle—a significant change to the facility or an accrediting regime. 

Putting together an emergency control organisation, also known as an ECO, will carry out its duties following the emergency plan as a guide. It is taking precautions to ensure that the emergency plan can be located quickly and is accessible to the right people (Emergency Wardens). 

Also, if it is determined to be essential, the formation of a specialised emergency reaction team may be required. This factor is dependent on the risk profile. The EPC must have the authority to release and implement the emergency plan. 

skills of the team

The following provisions will apply to the process of implementation:

Knowledge of the protocols for responding to emergencies: The occupants will get information regarding the processes followed in an emergency or evacuation. A systematic and thorough training plan must be devised. The material must be presented in an appropriate format. Training guarantees: that ECO members and facility residents have access to training pertinent to their needs.

Test of the evacuation procedures. The emergency response procedures are the foundation for the training programme, which must also be carried out following Section 6 of AS3745. The EPC needs to ensure that the emergency procedures are tested consistent with Clause 7.2 of the AS3745 standard. 

Examination of the processes. At every stage of the implementation process. A business should keep a close eye on how the new procedures affect its operations. Any errors or omissions in the procedures must be corrected by making the necessary modifications to the document. Debriefings after an emergency or exercise generally identify the need for change.

Establishing a group of responders and maintaining their functionality/competence

strategy for developing proceduresImplementing measures that guarantee the ECO will continue functioning as intended is essential. Keeping the registry of ECO members up to date and making it easy to access should be a priority for all occupants.

Furthermore, developing plans to ensure that guests know the emergency response procedures. This is very dependent on the risk profile. Also, reviewing and practising the emergency response protocols at least once yearly. This will help guarantee that they will continue to serve their intended purpose in an emergency and be effective.

Ensuring that the emergency plan is evaluated at the end of the validity period after an emergency. An exercise or any changes that affect the emergency plan that influences the emergency plan. Locating, analysing, and fixing flaws in the emergency plan and emergency response procedures. And locating and exploiting chances for further improvement. Ensuring that a comprehensive record of all occurrences of each emergency is collected and stored for future reference.

Participation in the EPC as a Member

The EPC must have a minimum of two members. Each must represent the facility’s stakeholders, and at least one must be a management team member. At least one EPC member must be qualified in their field or area of responsibility (as defined in Clause 1.4.5 – AS3745). Also, unless the facility is owned, occupied, and operated by a single person, the EPC may be the same person who owns or occupies the facility and is the facility’s operator.

legal gavel

The extent to which an emergency preparedness committee accommodates occupants who have a disability will be determined by safety and a specific need. Many factors determine how effective the committee concerns all of the building’s residents.

The EPC would typically include senior management, tenants, the chief warden, and specialised facility workers such as the maintenance engineer. Or others hired by the facility to provide specialised expertise may participate in EPC meetings. Such a consultant may not be considered a formal part of the emergency planning committee.

The meetings, as well as the legal indemnification

At a minimum, once a year, the EPC will get together. The emergency planning committee should ensure a file’s maintained. And this record must be kept under the appropriate regulatory requirements. Furthermore, it may include minutes of meetings, communication, the company’s financial status, reports, and guidance from specialists.

Employers, facility owners and managers, occupants, and anyone interested in the level of indemnity given to EPC members should consult an experienced professional. Communicating the extent of indemnity offered by appropriate legislation to the members of the EPC.

By Ken Walker

Hi, I'm Ken. I am the owner and senior director of Syncretic training Group Pty Ltd. If you have any questions about the website content or require guidance please let us know we are always happy to help.