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Advice Centre

Evacuation Plans – Have You Considered Everyone?

No matter what type of business you run, or where you are based, you need to ensure that you have a full evacuation plan in place should a fire or other issues arise which require everyone to leave the building. There are many aspects that need to be considered, including the following:

  • Clear passageways to escape routes
  • Short, direct escape routes that are clearly marked
  • Consideration for people with:
    • Mobility needs
    • Visual impairments
    • Hearing impairments
  • Easy to open emergency doors
  • Emergency lighting where applicable
  • Staff training
  • Staff meeting point

You can read further information about escape routes by reading our FAQs on clear and accessible escape routes.

Consideration of Mobility Needs

As part of your evacuation plan you will need to consider those who have mobility issues; as escape routes must not be accessed through electronically powered means, you must ensure that those who use wheelchairs or mobility scooters are able to access an escape route or have the support they need to do so.

Employers should look to work with any employee who has a mobility need and discuss a personal emergency evacuation plan which would include any action that the employee feels they may be able to make in such a situation.

It is important to remember that mobility needs can also cover those who have asthma, heart conditions or heart disease whereby it may be necessary to incorporate short rest periods into the escape route.

Key Points:

  • Ensure clear access to escape routes
  • Discuss a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan with employee
  • Look at adding small rest periods into escape route

Consideration of Visually Impaired

As an employer you need to take into consideration those that have visual impairments; whether a person is partially sighted or completely blind there are several aspects that you can incorporate into an escape route.

Colour contrasts, handrails on escape stairs and step edge markings should all be considered in the building design as this will help the employee find an exit and reduce the need for assistance from others. All of this information needs to be conveyed to the employee in their personal evacuation plan.

For visually impaired people who are visiting your site you should ensure that fire escape information is available in either Braille, large print or audio tape depending on the requirements.

Key Points:

  • Include handrails and step edge markings in escape routes
  • Discuss a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan with employee
  • Ensure information is available in suitable formats

Consideration of Hearing Impaired

Those who have hearing impairments, or are completely deaf, will also need to be considered when working out evacuation plans, particularly when being alerted. Traditional fire alarms often only carry noise alerts so incorporating a visual element that can alert someone with a hearing impairment is important.

Visual alarms, text messaging services or buddy systems should all be considered and discussed as part of the personal evacuation plan to ensure that someone with hearing impairments can safely evacuate a building.

Key Points

  • Install a visual alarm
  • Discuss a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan with employee
  • Operate a buddy system

For more information on your legal obligations as an employer you can view the Government website.

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