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What Are Blocked Exits?

In any workplace, it's essential that employees have easy access to exits in case of an emergency. Blocked exits can create serious safety hazards and put employees at risk. A blocked exit is any exit that is not clear and unobstructed. 

This could include exits that are physically blocked by objects or furniture, exits that are locked, or exits that are obstructed by debris. 

Any of these scenarios could prevent employees from quickly and easily exiting the building in an emergency, which is why it's so important to keep exits clear at all times.

Why Are Blocked Exits a Problem?

In the event of a fire or other emergency, every second counts. If employees can't quickly and easily get to an exit, it could mean the difference between life and death. Additionally, blocked exits can violate fire codes and result in hefty fines for businesses. 

Blocked exits are dangerous because they impede evacuation during an emergency. People may not be able to get out of the building quickly enough or they may get trapped behind the obstruction.

In some cases, people may even try to move the obstruction themselves which can delay evacuation even further or lead to injuries. Only trained personnel should attempt to move anything that is blocking an exit.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), "Exit routes must be free of obstructions or impediments that could restrict use. Means of egress are components of buildings or structures required by the code to provide safe passage from any point in a building or structure to an exterior point cleared of hazard."

Companies have an obligation to ensure that they prepare comprehensive evacuation schedules, including factoring for blocked exits. Businesses that fail are often subjected to hefty fines. This also leads to an increased safety risk in case of a fire outbreak. 

How to Prevent Blocked Exits

The best way to prevent blocked exits is to have a good housekeeping policy in place. All employees should know what is expected of them when it comes to keeping exits clear. Housekeeping should be done on a regular basis and any obstructions should be removed immediately. 

All employees should also know how to report a blocked exit. There should be a designated person responsible for addressing any reports of obstructed exits. By having a clear plan in place, you can ensure that all exits are kept clear and that everyone knows what to do if they come across a blocked exit.

Devising a Safety Plan 

The first step in creating a blocked exit safety plan is identifying potential blockages. These could include anything from large pieces of furniture to stacks of boxes or materials that could obstruct an exit path. It is important to take into account the possible causes of these blockages as well, such as improper storage or moving items into an exit path without warning other personnel. 

It is also important to note any areas where exits are narrow or restricted due to obstructions such as walls or other objects blocking the path. This can help you pinpoint where potential hazards may exist and create plans accordingly.

Once you have identified potential blockages, the next step is creating a response plan for when they do occur. This should include designating personnel who are responsible for monitoring blocked exits at all times and ensuring that any blockages are removed quickly and safely. 

Additionally, it should include steps for informing personnel of any blocked exits so they can avoid them until they are cleared out by designated personnel. 

Lastly, your response plan should outline protocols for when emergency situations arise, so everyone knows how to respond appropriately and evacuate safely in the event of an emergency.

Training Personnel

Finally, it is important that all personnel responsible for monitoring blocked exits and responding if one arises receive sufficient training on how to respond appropriately and safely clear out any blockage they find. 

Training should include instruction on how to properly inform other personnel if there is a blocked exit so they know where not to go in order to avoid potential harm during an emergency situation. 

Additionally, training should cover how best to remove any obstruction while still keeping everyone safe from potential harm during the process.

In addition to physical barriers, you should also take steps to address mental barriers like complacency which can prevent people from effectively moving through their environment during emergencies. 

Conduct regular drills with your staff so they become familiar with evacuation plans and routes so they will be better prepared if faced with a real-life situation requiring them to evacuate quickly. 

Educate workers on the importance of staying aware of their surroundings while they’re at work so they always know where the closest exit is located no matter what condition it’s currently in.

Use Protex AI to Improve Workplace Safety

Protex AI is a workplace safety solution that uses artificial intelligence to empower employers, plugging directly into the company's CCTV network. It allows companies to better monitor employee behavior and provides detailed information about any safety-related events. 

Implementing a comprehensive safety plan for blocked exits will help minimize risks associated with blocked pathways while also providing peace of mind knowing that you’ve taken every precaution necessary for protecting your staff from potentially hazardous conditions caused by blocked pathways leading out of the building.

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