A muster point is an allocated space in which all employees gather in the event of an emergency. It is considered the safest place on a site and all people inside a building should be aware of the muster point, being able to quickly assemble should they need to evacuate the building for whatever reason. Once a head count has been carried out to ensure everybody from the building is present, people can be moved onwards to a further evacuation point.
As well as for their own safety, every person who enters the premises should be made aware of the emergency procedure and this should be communicated to all employees when they first start a job. This ensures that an accurate headcount can be carried out when needed, quickly establishing whether anybody is still inside the building in case of a necessary rescue operation.
To prepare for any unexpected emergencies, regular drills should be carried out. Many companies choose to do this at the same time every week, fortnight, or month, with employees aware that it will happen but made to practice the procedure accordingly. This not only ensures that any alarms are working correctly but having all employees partake in the evacuation will determine the effectiveness of the emergency plan.
Picking The Best Muster Point
In many cases, managers just accept their muster point without question since it has been that way for as long as they can remember. Taking the time to step back and consider whether this really is the best location will ensure that safety measures are as efficient as they can be to maximize health and safety precautions.
When looking for an alternative, there are various factors to consider when reviewing muster points. To make the best decision for a workforce, here are some of the key aspects:
When a large number of people need to evacuate a building in a hurry, they need to be able to get there as quickly as possible, yet be far enough from immediate danger. Depending on the layout of a site, a muster point should be located on the outskirts of the grounds away from the perimeter of the buildings, but be located nearby to the hub of the business so it is in reachable distance for everyone.
The muster point will be a location that is far enough away from the danger to be safe, allowing for a quick check of occupants before being able to head further afield to an evacuation point. This spot must be far from the building to keep clear of possible flames, falling debris and billowing smoke.
With the main aim of a muster point to be able to carry out a head count as quickly as possible following an incident, everybody needs to be able to reach the point independently. The muster point needs to be easily and safely reachable, including those with disabilities or requiring additional support. By accounting for potential hurdles such as staircases, parked cars, and uneven ground which may cause issues for those with mobility problems, the hazards can be eradicated to improve the emergency exit areas.
If a site is large, it is often better to allocate multiple muster points across the grounds. In this case, all employees should be made clear of the nearest muster point to their area of work which they should report to in an emergency to contribute to an accurate headcount. This will also minimize congestion as everybody rushes to leave the building, preventing crowding and hold ups.
Although a muster point and evacuation point tend to be external to the building, this is not always possible. Especially in healthcare facilities such as hospitals and care homes where people are physically unable to leave the building or require medical equipment at all times, new safety measures need to be implemented in case of emergency.
In some cases, larger facilities allocate a different part of a building for evacuation purposes, allowing people to move away from the danger yet still have access to the equipment needed. Other precautions include fire doors and sprinkler systems which protect vulnerable areas of a site that cannot be evacuated in time.
Preparing The Allocated Muster Point
Once a suitable muster point has been decided on and confirmed, it is important to make everyone who accesses the site aware of the change. It should be apparent where any emergency exits are and a clear procedure put into place which is practiced on a frequent basis during drills.
A fire assembly point sign is a legal requirement in a business, clearly highlighting a route which can be followed in an emergency. The signage should be placed in a clear position, regularly cleaned, and be glow in the dark to show up even in the event of a power outage or fire. These signs should be placed on every exit in a building so that everybody can quickly find a way to escape a hazard even if they do not know the site, avoiding the risk of finding themselves in an unsafe location. Once they are out of the building, the muster point should also be well signed so everybody knows exactly where to go.
Assign an Emergency Warden
To ensure an evacuation runs as smoothly as possible, a trusted member of staff should be appointed Emergency Warden. The individual(s) in this role will be responsible for carrying out the headcount and providing instruction on what everybody should do next. To prepare them for the role, more in-depth training should be provided so they are familiar with the full evacuation plan and can take control in the event of an incident.