When fitting out your premises with fire alarms and other safety equipment, you need to consider how individuals with disabilities will be able to use and react to the equipment installed. Regardless of whether you employ someone with a disability or not, you will need to ensure that your fire safety procedures incorporate the requirements of a disabled or deaf individual.
Under The Equality Act 2010 (which incorporates The Disability Discrimination Act 1995) and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, businesses must accommodate for those with disabilities. Failing to provide safety measures that help with the safe evacuation of disabled people can be viewed as discrimination and as failure to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
There are a number of different ways a company’s premises and fire safety procedures can be adapted to facilitate for disabled or deaf individuals. When making changes to a premises to accommodate for the needs of disabled people, companies will need to take the following actions.
Carry out a risk assessment Do you know who is responsible?
Carrying out fire safety risk assessment is an essential part of ensuring that your premises is fire safe and is part of a business’s legal requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Along with the business specific risk assessment that you carry out, you should complete an accompanying Means of Escape for Disabled People risk assessment.
A completed risk assessment will show the efforts you have made to make your premises safe and also highlight areas that require improvements.
First steps Installing the correct systems
If you employ or work with individuals who are deaf or disabled then you will need to install alarms that incorporate flashing light alerts when triggered. These flashing lights will alert those with limited hearing of the need to lead the premises and are also useful in areas that have high noise levels.
Companies also have a responsibility to create an evacuation policy that reduces the need to leave the premises under a false alarm. Therefore, you should make sure that your alarms have regular maintenance to ensure that they are not faulty, and work out a procedure to determine whether an alarm is real or not.
Create a Personal Emergency
If you employ someone with a disability, or have a disabled individual regularly visit your workplace, then you or your HR department should work out their Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs).
PEEPs should be tailored to meet individual needs so that they aid safe evacuation of the individual. If required, allocate several other employees to help assist with implementing the PEEPs during an emergency situation.
Have evacuation equipment
You should also have evacuation equipment on site that will assist with the safe evacuation of those with limited mobility during an emergency situation. Ski sheets and pads will help evacuation immobile people or those with limited mobility in a safe way, as will evacuation chairs.
This equipment should be stored in an accessible place and at regular intervals throughout your premises so that they are easily available for use.
You will need to train members of your staff to use this equipment correctly to guarantee safe evacuation and should gauge the amount of employees trained by the type of company you run. In cases where employees work shifts, or you are working in a care giving environment, then it may be suitable for every member of staff to be trained.
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