5th January 2023
Evac-Chairs – Do You Need One?
How do you know if you need to supply an evacuation chair for persons with mobility issues, and what are your legal responsibilities in relation to staff training?
Why have an Evacuation Chair?
According to government statistics, 53% of disabled people aged 16 to 64 are employed within the UK – that equates to over 4.4M workers. Its therefore quite likely that at some point you will need to address the issue of their safe evacuation within your workplace.
An evacuation chair can be used to assist those with reduced mobility in the event of an emergency. These are similar looking to wheelchairs, but specifically designed to be lighter and able to negotiate staircases.
In addition to the overarching ‘Duty of Care’ to employees under S2 of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires the responsible person to make a ‘suitable and sufficient’ of life safety fire risks. This will determine as to whether an evacuation chair is required or not. In essence though, if you have any individual who may be incapable of evacuating without assistance due to injury, disability, pregnancy or other medical conditions that can hinder their ability to move quickly in an emergency – then the use of an evacuation chair is highly likely.
What do I Need to do?
Firstly, decide how many chairs you require and where they are to be located – the findings of your risk assessment will determine the optional number. In general, chairs should be stored in or near a fire refuge point or evacuation staircase as it’s vital that such equipment is easily accessible in the event of a fire or other emergency
At the same time, it is important that evacuation chairs are safely and securely stored so that it does not in itself block evacuation routes or otherwise present a health and safety hazard for others. Fortunately, most evacuation chairs fold flat, and many are supplied with a wall bracket and cover for easy storage.
It important to note that in addition to ongoing routine in-house checks, evacuation chairs also require an annual service. This will keep you in line with PUWER Regulations, and will also give you peace of mind that the equipment is in full working order should it be required during an emergency evacuation.
You may have heard the phrase ‘PEEP’ before – this stand for Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan. It’s a specific document which details how the safe evacuation of an individual will be undertaken. If a disabled person can leave the building unaided, then a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan is not required, although for all other instances which will necessitate staff involvement, then a PEEP is recommended.
Once you have established how many evacuation chairs you require and where these are to be located, the last – but arguably the most important step, is to ensure that relevant staff are provided with appropriate training so that they aren’t in a position of working out what to do with them in an emergency or causing delays.
Suitable training would involve staff having practical, hands-on experience of using the chair and safely operating the equipment.
As with all health and safety training undertaken, its important to keep records and undertake refresher training at regular intervals.
If you have any queries on evacuation chairs, fire safety or indeed any other health and safety related issues, then call our H&S adviceline today on 0300 303 5228 or email us at email@example.com
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