People with disabilities

What do building managers need to know about providing means of escape to people with disabilities?

Learn how you can adapt your building to the varying types of visitor and disability, and how PEEPs shapes the process 

What are Personal Emergency Escape Plans (PEEPs)?

Personal Emergency Escape Plans or PEEPs are a personalised sets of plans outlined to provide less abled individuals means of escape within a building during an emergency.

PEEPs focus on three types of building user: Employees and regular visitors, standard plans for occasional visitors and unknown or uncontrolled visitors.

Types of building user and the need for Personal Emergency Escape Plans (PEEPs)

Employees and regular visitors

In certain circumstances, staff or regular visitors may require tailored individual plans in order to navigate a building efficiently and safely.

Unknown or uncontrolled visitors

If visitors don't formally enter a building or pass a reception point, such as in libraries, theatres and shopping centres. For these instances the training of staff is vital.

Standard plans for occasional visitors

For visitors who are unfamiliar with the building and are unlikely to visit often, standard escape routes should be adopted by organisations.

Note: the following is a guidance taken from the UK governments Fire Safety risk assessment supplementary guide: Means of Escape for Disabled People, 2007.  PEEPs focus on three types of building user: Employees and regular visitors, standard plans for occasional visitors and unknown or uncontrolled visitors.

 

Types of disabilities

Mobility impaired people / Wheelchair users

In buildings with many floors it might be necessary to create designated refuge areas with two-way communication systems, whereby trapped occupants on an upper floor can notify fire and rescue personnel on the ground floor of their whereabouts.

Visually impaired and blind people

Contingencies must also be made for people with impaired eyesight, particularly if there's a possibility of them being unaccompanied in a building at the time when an evacuation procedure is activated.

Deaf or hard-of-hearing

Most of the risks are encountered when a deaf or hard-of-hearing person is alone and cannot rely on others to warn them of an emergency. This risk applies to even short periods of time, as minutes or even seconds can make all the difference during evacuation.

Cognitive impairments

Those with mental disabilities, which can also be described as cognitive impairments, present a particularly complicated set of circumstances to negotiate, since mental disabilities can vary greatly and have differing impacts on both perception of danger and responses to it.

Summary

To summarise the legal position, a failure to make provision for the safe egress and evacuation of disabled people from a particular premises is likely to mean a failure to comply with legal requirements, and could also be considered a contravention of the Equality Act.

For more details download our full article on Evacuating people with disabilities below.