Every business needs to ensure that their staff are working in a safe environment, with suitable means of evacuation and co-ordinated fire muster points. Usually a fire safety officer is appointed or a nominated fire warden organise and manage both drill evacuations and real-world evacuations.
From the minute a fire alarm is sounded or an evacuation ordered, it is crucial to have a plan in place to make sure all staff are aware of evacuation points and of all the exits available to them. This is true for all staff and/or customers including those who are disabled, injured or who have mobility issues. This is where regulations should be in place to ensure your business is following the correct procedure in the work place.
Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans, (PEEPS) should be in place for any employee requiring assistance and this should also be adopted where you have regular customers using your premises who require assisted evacuation.
Legal Requirements for the Mobility Impaired
There are standards and regulations to follow for all businesses operating with disabled members of staff or with those who have mobility concerns. A large quantity of those people may be “mobility impaired” and these people are considered at-risk just as much as wheelchair users. It is no longer the responsibility of the fire brigade to evacuate people “from refuge areas or safe havens” and so, assigned safety officers and occupiers of the building must be responsible for assuring mobility impaired employees or customers are safely evacuated.
This category could include those with heart disease or asthma and the primary option for escape is usually horizontal evacuation to outside the building. This could be via a fire evacuation lift for example. However, a thorough evacuation plan can have regular rest stops built in to allow those individuals who are mobility impaired to walk out of the building, with the help of walking aids or suitable handrails for support.
2-3 minutes is not a realistic time frame for disabled people to evacuate a facility and so making sure that staff have a plan of escape that considers all of the compartmentalised areas of the building and those areas that are more resistant to fire or smoke, could be very beneficial and buy the necessary time for them to escape safely.
Evacuation Chair Legislation
As required by law building owners, operators or tenants are requires to provide a means of escape for everybody using their buildings. Undoubtedly the best way to evacuate members of staff or the public, with the minimum amount of risk, is to use an Evacuation Chair. The choice has never been better and in most cases there should be a type of Evacuation Chair or Stairclimber that will suit individuals and buildings. It is no longer acceptable for staff to perform a carry-down movement with the individual in their wheelchair, as you would expect the risks of injury and the amount of individuals required to perform this actually increases the fire risk, rather than reduces which would never be signed off as part of your fire risk assessment.
Evacuation Chairs are now commonly found in most multi-storey buildings particularly those with public access or where high numbers of staff work in offices. They provide the most effective and safest form of escape for both the intended user and operator of the equipment. We can provide advice and support on which product is most suitable for your business through site assessments and deliver your business the required evacuation chair training and maintenance services ensuring long term safety of use and adhering to evacuation chair legislation.
An evacuation chair will either slide down the stairs or navigate spiral staircases with tri-wheeled systems and can also provide powered options for upward evacuation from basements. There is even equipment available for individuals who are unable to transfer from there wheelchairs to be facilitated using certain Stairclimber equipment to safely descend/ascend the stairs.
All evacuation equipment regardless of type will require full chair training and regular practice to safely and proficiently operate the chosen equipment and it’s recommended that regular practice sessions take place with the operating staff who are assigned to use it. This is a requirement by law that there are enough trained operators to meet emergency use of the chairs and to ensure they are maintained in full working order.
Regular training sessions and maintenance intervals are detailed in the evacuation chair regulations outlined in RRO & BS9999 and PUWER standards, of which all of our products adhere to. Maintenance is important and should take place at regular intervals based on manufacturers guidelines, according to PUWER. Annual safety checks and maintenance should be recorded in a log and KFive can provide a full service offering, including evacuation chair repairs.
These chairs should not be used by anyone who is not trained to the required standards as this increases the risk of injury to both operator and evacuee. At KFive we provide certified evacuation chair training courses, support material and operator manuals which can help your nominated staff members meet the legal requirements for operating evacuation chairs in an emergency.