Why you don’t block exits, emergency exits, emergency routes or electrical panels with product. Due to the constant turnover of employees and the many unethical companies out there training is not done consistently or uniformly even comparing store to store if at all and the main reason for doing this series of articles. To help you.
As the manager/supervisor you maintain inventory at manageable levels so you don’t disappoint customers but when it comes to those weekly specials and co op advertising deals you usually have no control on the amount or any idea of the quantity that is going to come your way to support the sale and weekly flyers. Marketing always over estimates the quantity your location will sell and they also couldn’t care less about your limited space or storage issues. It’s not their problem.
When that product arrives the tendency may be to store product where ever you can and in some cases with the best of intentions blocking an exit for a short period of time or at least that’s what you tell yourself. First you promised to move it within a few hours, then the next day, they’re be no fire here or emergency, that never happens.
In 1911 at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City where they chained and locked emergency exits. A fire broke out and 123 women, girls and men died. They couldn’t get out. Just over 100 years later, 2012, the Dhaka Factory in Bangladesh was a garment factory and had loads of fabric and yarn all over the building making already narrow passages hard to navigate. A fire started and 117 workers, mostly women died. It was too difficult to get out before the smoke overtook them.
What’s an Emergency Exit? – It’s as it sounds, an exit from the premises so you can evacuate quickly in the event of an emergency. Actually any Exit can be used when evacuating but Emergency Exits are for that purpose only. All Exits, even Emergency exits should be clearly marked and light up and if power is lost equipped with battery backup. They should never be locked (unless they have a panic bar with alarm for easy exit), chained shut or most of all blocked by anything! Don’t assume because emergency exits aren’t always used for daily activity, that you can use them for storage. Remember, an emergency is never planned and doesn’t wait until you have clear emergency exits.
What’s an Evacuation route plan? – It’s a path that is the quickest way to exit a building from your actual location when an evacuation is needed marked by a series of signs and/or markings. You need to have this posted on the walls along the route so everyone can see the best way out. As with the exits, emergency routes should never be blocked and free and clear of any obstacles. You also should indicate the meet place so everyone can be accounted for and known safe.
Why do I have to keep electrical panels clear? When there is a fire, you want to shut the power off especially if it’s an electrical fire. You must do your best to keep it clear.
When it comes to the storing the amounts of product, there is no doubt you will have to become creative and that may mean moving it around often. Don’t be afraid to try new or different ideas, in fact try to get the staff involved. As far as the specials try to get as much as possible on the floor display so customers can get right to it and hopefully sell out quickly. It’s not going to be easy but you are responsible for the safety of your employees and customers and you need to take it seriously.