Why write an Emergency Plan
Queensland’s Work Health & Safety Regulation 2011 (Section 43) requires an emergency plan to be written. If the quantity of schedule 11 hazardous chemicals (page 647) used, handled or stored at the workplace exceeds the manifest quantity for that hazardous chemical, then Section 361 (page 321) also applies. Section 361 stipulates that a person conducting a business or undertaking at the workplace must give a copy of the emergency plan, prepared under Part 3.2, Division 4 (Section 43) for the workplace to the Queensland Fire & Rescue Service (QFRS), the now Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) since late 2013.
If the workplace is determined to be a major hazard facility (Part 9.2 page 447) then section 557 (page 321) applies.
How to write an Emergency Plan
The Queensland Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Section 43) states an emergency plan must be prepared for the workplace.
An emergency plan is a written document detailing how a workplace and its occupants deal with or manage an emergency.
An effective emergency plan consists of the preparedness, response and recovery activities including the roles/responsibilities and arrangements.
The level of detail in the emergency plan will depend on the complexity of the activities at the workplace involved, how much and what types of hazardous materials are stored or used at the site.
Typical emergencies include:
- Electrical outage;
- Mechanical or process failure;
- Natural events such as storms or cyclones; and
- Hazardous materials releases.
Preparing to manage an emergency which aims to prepare for and mitigate the effects of the emergency.
These two documents are provided to assist you with developing your emergency plan.
Where to Send an Emergency Plan
Emergency plans should be submitted in electronic form (preferably in PDF format) to qfes.EMPlanning@qfes.qld.gov.au
Ensure the plan and the email includes:
- Contact name and position title;
- Contact phone/mobile numbers;
- Name of the workplace;
- Postal address; and
- Street address of the main entrance with its location geo-coded in decimal degrees (4 or 5 decimal places) latitude and longitude.
What will QFES do when it receives an Emergency Plan
The QFES can provide a written recommendation about the content or effectiveness of the emergency plan. If the QFES does give written recommendation, the person must revise the plan in accordance with the recommendation. Major Hazard Facilities (MHF) have other obligations as outlined in the Work Health & Safety Regulation 2011.
Upon receipt of an emergency plan, QFES will send a letter acknowledging submission of the emergency plan to the workplace. If QFES deem it necessary, a copy of the emergency plan will be forwarded to the Queensland Police Service.
QFES will classify the plan. Based on the result, the emergency plan may be reviewed.
Emergency plans not requiring review, will be provided to the relevant local QFES area so it can be incorporated into their local preparedness activities. This may include developing a Local Area Plan; visiting the workplace; or arranging an exercise with your workplace. QFES will send a letter to the workplace advising that a review of the emergency plan was not deemed necessary and that the emergency plan has been provided to the relevant local QFES area.
After the review has been completed, a written recommendation will be provided to the workplace and a copy of the recommendation will also be provided to the Workplace, Health & Safety Queensland Hazardous Industries and Chemical Branch (as they are the Regulator).
Who can assist you with developing an Emergency Plan
There are two common sources of help when developing the emergency plan for the workplace.
There are consultants within private industry who specialise in writing emergency plans. The QFES cannot recommend a consultant. It is nonetheless important to ensure any consultant used understands your business and requirements when writing an emergency plan that is appropriate for the workplace.
Information can also be obtained from libraries/websites and industry associations.
Government agencies provide advice specifically on the requirements for the emergency plan.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service
07 - 3909 4310
Hazardous Industries and Chemicals Branch (HICB)
Division of Workplace, Health and Safety Queensland
07 - 3874 7579
HICB can also provide advice about all other sections of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
What to do about “storing the manifest” so it is accessible to the Emergency Services
There is a requirement in Work Health Safety Regulation 2011 Section 347 (3) for the person (as defined in the Act) to keep the manifest:
- in a place determined in agreement with the primary emergency service organisation;
- available for inspection; and
- readily accessible to the emergency service organisation.
Historically, a manifest was kept in a red weatherproof container known as the HAZMAT box. The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services recommend the manifest be stored securely in a red weatherproof box (HAZMAT box). The HAZMAT box is typically 400 mm x 300 mm x 90 mm deep and mounted securely, for example a steel post concreted into position. To ensure security of the box and its contents a 003 series lock should be installed. The HAZMAT box is typically labelled Emergency information and HAZMAT.
An example of a HAZMAT box
The HAZMAT box should be located inside the site as close as practical to the main entry. It should ideally be located near the outer warning sign and on the left side of the entrance so the fire officer can safely and easily access the box. If there are many entrances to the site used regularly, or a security post used to control access to the site consideration should be given to placing HAZMAT box at each entry, or within a security post.
If there are compelling reasons to consider storing the manifest in another location, consult with the local QFES fire station about the best position for its location.
Workplace, Health & Safety Queensland
Queensland’s Work Health & Safety Regulation 2011
Emergency Planning Publications and Documents
QFES Emergency Planning Guidance (Link coming soon)
Emergency Planning: Guidelines for Hazardous Industry
Safework Australia Emergency Plans Fact Sheet
AS 4083 Planning for emergencies: Health Cared Facilities
AS 3745:2010 Planning for emergencies in Facilities
AS 31000 Risk Management Principles and Guidelines
AS 5050 Business Continuity Managing disruption related risk
Last updated 5 March 2014