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Watchdog Highlights Accessibility Flaws in UK Venues

01 January 2016

Late last year BBC One’s Watchdog ran a report revealing how inaccessible some entertainment and leisure venues can be for people with disabilities.

The core focus of the piece was that whilst venues tend to take steps to ensure they have the right equipment and measures installed to comply with accessibility legislation, the fact was that in many cases, the staff were in the dark over how to actually use this equipment. In other words, compliance covered on paper, but in practice it was falling down very badly. You can view the disabled access report on BBC iPlayer: it’s just a few minutes long, but very revealing.

Watching the report brought to mind something that we have become very aware of: the fact there are often great gaps when it comes to keeping skills up to date in the use of evacuation chairs.

Could you Evacuate Disabled Persons Safely in an Emergency?

Evacuation chairs are very important pieces of equipment. They are used to evacuate disabled people from buildings in emergency situations. The problem is, whilst buildings and venues generally tick the box that says chairs must be available for use when necessary, in many cases they are lacking competent people to operate them.

A lot of the buildings we visit have had evacuation chairs installed in the past few years, and had arranged some training at the point of purchase. However, using the chairs is a very perishable skill, and without regular refresher training, operators will quickly lose confidence. When faced with an emergency situation, this is obviously an alarming thought. Even more so when a building is open to members of the public who will not be familiar with the chair or the person handling it. A nervous operator will not instil peace of mind in an already concerned evacuee, and in some instances this could lead to them refusing to get into the chair altogether.

Further issues include a lack of regular servicing of the equipment. This can lead to unpredictable behaviour when in use on a staircase, and is clearly not something anyone wants to be faced with in an emergency situation.

A Convenient Solution in Training AND Servicing

The solution to these issues is to arrange regular refresher training in the use of evacuation chairs. It is understandable that because there are numerous different makes of chair on the market, it can be a challenge to organise training if there is a range of brands throughout your building. It can also make it something of a task to arrange servicing.

At Alistair Bromhead Ltd we offer two independently run evacuation chair courses, both of which can cover a range of different models. Additionally, one of our trainers is qualified to service a wide variety of evacuation chairs, so both services can be combined for total convenience.

The first course offered is evacuation chair operator training. This is an interactive, hands-on course run in-house and covers chair deployment and handling as well as additional advice on the best locations to situate chairs.

The second is an evacuation chair train the trainer course which provides an IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) certificate. If you are looking to keep costs down by bringing future, regular training in-house using your own qualified trainers, then you will benefit from this course.

For further information, or to book an evacuation chair training course or servicing for your equipment, call 07932 674707 or email info@abromhead.co.uk.

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