In our last post we talked about the importance of correctly undertaken, site-specific manual handling risk assessments and how they can literally save lives by ensuring the people carrying out the tasks in question are adequately informed, trained and supervised.

The same goes for fire risk assessments, the importance of which can never be over-emphasised.

During a fire risk assessment, numerous controls will be suggested, depending on the individual circumstances and building environment. Unless these are properly implemented, it will make the assessment a complete waste of time. Risk assessments are not, after all, just for show and should never just be completed in order to tick a box.

Are Your Evacuation Chairs Merely an Expensive Wall Decoration?

One of the requirements that usually arises following a fire risk assessment is the need for evacuation chairs. These chairs are used to transport people who are unable to make their own way from a building in the event of a fire or other emergency that requires fast evacuation from the premises. The chairs are most often used for persons who are disabled, temporarily incapacitated through injury or heavily pregnant.

In our work going out to provide training within organisations, we see many evacuation chairs adorning the walls of commercial premises. These will usually be in place as a result of an audit or risk assessment. Through purchasing them and fixing them to a wall, the occupier feels that they are able to tick that box. However, unless staff are adequately trained to use them and the equipment is properly maintained and inspected, the chairs are, effectively, nothing more than an expensive and useless wall decoration.

Not only must there be an adequately trained evacuation chair operator on the premises and other back-up personnel also trained and ready to put the chair to use should the need arise, the operators will also need to ensure their skills and knowledge are regularly refreshed.

Refresher Training Crucial for Evacuation Chair Handlers

Skills can easily fade and confidence can wane where there is no regular practice of something. The use of an evacuation chair is, we would hope, not something that would happen on a regular basis, but there is always a possibility that a need will arise, because no one will ever know when a fire could take hold or some other incident could arise.

Refresher training is perhaps more important for evacuation chair operating than it is for many other skills. Ideally, there should be several practices every year. Whilst it may not seem practical from a commercial point of view with resources being put under pressure and of course the cost of such training being taken into account, there is a solution.

In addition to our regular half-day evacuation chair training course aimed at training staff in the use of the chairs, we also offer the IOSH Evacuation Chair Train the Trainer course. This runs over one day and equips staff with the ability to train others in the safe use of evacuation chairs. Once qualified, the trainers will be able to run regular refresher training courses onsite, which means cost savings all round.

Evacuation chairs could be life-saving in the event of a fire or other incident. Ensure your staff are trained and keep their skills up to date on a regular basis.

For more information on these courses call 0800 710 1099 or email