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Disabled workers’ lives at risk due to poor emergency evacuation procedures

Disabled workers’ lives are at risk due to ill-informed emergency evacuation procedures, a report has found.

The study by Evac+Chair International found a quarter of business leaders are not aware how many of their employees have access needs and four in five are unsure about their responsibilities.

The report also found one in 10 business leaders are either not prepared, or unsure if they are adequately prepared, to safely evacuate employees needing assistance.

The results have led to calls for more guidance from the government and legal requirements for life saving evacuation equipment.

Gerard Wallace, Managing Director of Evac+Chair International, said: “There are more than 4.8 million disabled people in UK workplaces and this figure is rising. Those responsible for their safety are falling short, with a clear lack of knowledge, understanding and investment amplifying risk in emergency situations.

“Despite recent tragedies highlighting how important it is to be prepared to safely evacuate everyone from multistorey buildings, our findings show that safe evacuations for all clearly needs to move higher up the agenda. Our report makes the case to the government for better education and a firmer legal landscape.”

The report found 82% of organisations would like the government to provide more clarity on their responsibilities surrounding fire safety, while more than two thirds think evacuation equipment should be a legal requirement.

It also discovered 67% of decision makers believe there is a culture of non-compliance or exploitation of loopholes in the business community, surrounding evacuation measures.

Meanwhile, more than one quarter of respondents do not have someone solely responsible for evacuations.

Furthermore, one in five do not take temporary mobility challenges, such as pregnancy or a broken leg, into consideration in their safety plans.

The report also notes that 68% of business decision makers think fire safety legislation does not do enough to protect those with access needs. Cost of equipment and a lack of information were cited as the biggest challenges for developing suitable procedures.

To view the report in full, visit here.

IFSEC Global February 2023

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