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Will Lack of Evacuation Plans Put Disabled Workers at Risk?

  • Published: 2015-12-11 (Revised/Updated 2016-06-11) : Author: K5 Evacuation Chairs : Contact:
  • Synopsis: Number of workplaces failing to use an evacuation plan for disabled staff in the UK is at a shocking low.

1 in 3 Businesses Are Failing to Provide Disabled Workers With an Evacuation Plan.

The number of workplaces failing to use an evacuation plan for disabled staff in the UK is at a shocking low, according to a recent survey of 500 UK businesses by K5 Evacuation Chairs.

Asked whether they had an evacuation plan in place and what equipment they were using, 27.00% of businesses said they used none of the specified equipment but 35.4% claimed to use no current disabled evacuation plan at all. The list of equipment included evacuation chairs, wheelchair lifts, Stairmate climbers, evac pads and slings or sliders, all suitable equipment for safely evacuating someone with mobility issues.

When asked whether he thought enough was being done across UK businesses to accommodate workers, Nathan Grayham-Ormes, owner of K5 Evacuation Chairs said "I think it shows that despite all the changes made over the last 20 years in disability reform in the workplace, there's still a need to create awareness".

With safety at work just as important as it has ever been, this low number shows a disappointing trend of neglect towards workers with disabilities that should have stopped a long time ago.

It is now 20 years since the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was introduced into British law. Following mass protests in London by disabled protesters who chained themselves to public transport, chanting and crying about equality, suddenly this important issue was thrown into the spotlight and for the first time in our history, discrimination against people with disabilities became a very real problem that needed to be addressed. As unimaginable as the attitudes were, they were just as prominent in the workplace as well as in everyday life and it appears as if this discrimination could still be happening. The equality act of 2010 also prohibits a host of discrimination, including any pertaining to those with a disability and so even though both of these hugely influential laws are in place and have been for some time, there is seemingly a lack of adherence by many businesses in the UK. The survey results showed that 22.3% of businesses asked use evacuation chairs and 17.1% use wheelchair lifts, with more manual solutions taking a back seat. These included:

These particular figures were not surprising as those options generally require a lot of manual lifting and of course the training that goes with it and the associated costs. The fact is that many companies can't afford the expense to introduce that type of equipment but regardless, there still needs to be a suitable plan in place in order to maintain that person's dignity and to ensure they exit the building safely.

The fact remains that ignorance and ambivalence is still rife when it comes to equality in the workplace. Surely after 20 years of companies making provisions and better understanding their staff's needs, as well as their own responsibilities, isn't it time for those numbers to be much, much higher?

K5 Evacuation Chairs started in 2004 and supply evacuation equipment for businesses and home owners who are mobility impaired or disabled. This survey was carried out using Google Consumer Surveys between 1/12/2015 and 3/12/2015 using data from a total of 500 participants from small to medium UK businesses. They were asked whether they had an evacuation plan in place for the disabled or mobility impaired and were given multiple choice answers on the equipment they were using, including a "no plan used" option.

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