Understanding the Value of a Site Map in the Workplace

Although it is more often considered a matter of occupational safety, the value of a site map in the workplace has the potential to be lifesaving. In times of panic and uncertainty such as those associated with emergencies and disasters, it is critical to have these visual aids posted throughout the workplace so individuals know with a glance the best path forward for their protection and wellbeing. Whether your company needs to create a site map or needs to update an established map, this is time and money well invested.

What Is a Site Map?

A site map shows the basic layout of a building and potential evacuation routes in the event of an emergency. These visual aids are generally posted throughout the workplace, often near interior doors to show people in a building their primary and back up options for evacuating a structure.

Due to their potentially lifesaving nature, these maps are used in most businesses such as schools, corporations, refineries, and industrial plants to name just a few.

Some of the common elements of a site map include:

  • Facility’s name and address
  • The map’s current location within the building (“You are here”)
  • North orientation
  • Entrances and exits
  • Disaster routes
  • Elevators
  • Stairwells
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Emergency response equipment
  • Adjacent streets
  • Evacuation staging or marshal area
  • Emergency vehicle information
  • Traffic flow instructions

Industrial plants or facilities that work with hazardous materials have some additional components that may need to be added to a site map include:

  • Hazardous materials handling and storage areas
  • Loading and unloading docks
  • Sewer drains
  • Storage tank locations and capacities
  • Shut-off for water, electric, and gas

Displaying a Site Map

The best and most accurate site maps in the world can be rendered completely useless if they are not displayed properly. In order for this tool to be effective in the event of a necessary building evacuation, a map must be:

  • Displayed in every room. This includes bathrooms, closets, offices, break rooms, etc. If there is a possibility a human could be accessing that room for any reason, it should have a site map posted in it.
  • Kept at eye level. Particularly in times of emergency, our actions can become frantic and less methodical. For this reason, it is often recommended that site maps be displayed at eye level so that as individuals prepare to leave a room in search of safety, they are more likely to see and utilize the map.
  • Positioned with correct orientation in mind. Even a map that shows where you currently are can be confusing if it is posted sideways or in a way that confuses the viewer about their present surroundings. Ensure that site maps are posted in a way that a viewer can relate to the map and correctly link it to the layout of their surroundings.

How to Enhance the Effectiveness of a Site Map

Having a site map is essential, but it’s also important to put processes in place to help those in the building know what to do in case of an emergency.

Some practices that can enhance the effectiveness of a site map include:

  • Awareness. Make employees aware of the fact that site maps are posted in every room. Educate individuals on how to use the map and what type of information is noted on the map so they understand how to use it correctly.
  • Planning. Unfortunately, disasters can take many forms. By planning for as many emergency scenarios as possible, it can help employees be more prepared and site maps more effective.
  • Staff training. Do not just post a site map on the wall and call it a day. Take the time to train staff in how to properly read the site map so they can be more prepared when an emergency takes place.
  • Practice. As with most things in life, knowing and doing can be two totally separate things. By practicing evacuations and drills as directed by a site map, that practice can become part of our memory. This may allow an evacuation to come more naturally and with less panic in times of high stress and uncertainty.
  • Revision. It is not unusual for a structure to change in form with building additions or renovations. It is essential to everyone’s safety that a site map be revaluated on at least an annual basis to ensure that the information and layout it contains is still accurate.

What Is the Value of a Site Map?

The value of a site map is priceless when considering the lives it could potentially save in the event of a disaster or emergency. The creation of this document is a tangible way to invest in the safety and protection of the individuals working and interacting inside of a building.

Without a site map present, an individual’s safety could be severely compromised. They may not know where the stairwells or exits are, how to shut off gas or electricity connections, or where to safely reconvene after they are out of harm’s way. By including this map in every room in the building it can also enable the people inside to take ownership of the evacuation process and help each other in an emergency.

The value of a site map is truly that it’s invaluable in saving lives. To create or update a site map for your workplace, reach out today to a company who specializes in the creation and printing of these essential items.

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