If you have anyone with a disability or mobility impairment within your building, would you know what to do in the event of an emergency – be that fire related or anything else? If the appropriate risk assessments are not in place or you feel your facilities are not suitable, you could be putting those persons at risk. It is not acceptable to refuse entry to someone with a disability, and it’s certainly not the responsibility of the emergency services to evacuate them, when they arrive on the scene – in an emergency situation. It is the responsibility of the building manager or business owner to ensure that everyone, including those with a disability or mobility impairment, can safely evacuate from the building in the event of an emergency.
Forming an escape plan should always start with a risk assessment. This document will make recommendations that state what you need and what to provide including evacuation equipment such as evacuation chairs and rescue sheets. The report should also consider whether training and regular refresher training is also in place so that in the event of an emergency evacuation, there are responsible people who are ready and able to assist.
Finally, it is important to know that the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order of 2005 is the current UK legislation for fire safety, and if ignored it could put you in breach of the Equality Act of 2010, which states that; “All businesses are required to ensure that their premises are accessible to persons who have mobility impairments.”
This means, that if you are an employer, it is your responsibility to make the necessary adjustments and accommodate anyone that may have a disability. The Equality Act is clear that if you do not take the needs of ALL groups of people into consideration, you could be in breach of legislation and therefore vulnerable to claims of discrimination.