HOW DOES LEGISLATION AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS?
Besides Constitutional rights, people with injuries and disabilities are protected specifically under various laws and regulations in terms of their rights to access and to leave buildings safely:
EVAC+CHAIR – SOUTH AFRICA offers solutions to help prepare your building for a safe emergency evacuation
THE LABOUR ACT & THE OHS ACT
Stipulates everybody’s right to a safe working environment. Obviously, a person who cannot walk is not safe upstairs unless special provision has been made to evacuate him or her in an emergency. More specifically, the Department of Labour has issued “Technical Assistance Guidelines on the Employment of People with Disabilities” (the TAG document). This document, under 6.3.8 (Health and Safety), requires that “Evacuation procedures should take into account any specific or additional measures to ensure that an employee with a disability is safely evacuated from a building or work site during emergencies”.
THE PUBLIC SERVICE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION HANDBOOK (PUBLISHED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SERVICE (Section 1.17)
Fire alarm and emergency procedures (page 22) states as follows: “All emergency procedures should include evacuation plans and equipment for people with mobility impairments (such as an evacuation chair) and this equipment must be immediately accessible. (This DPSA handbook is intended to be a source of easy reference for all Public Service officials, including Heads of Departments, Senior Managers, Disability Focal Persons, employees with disabilities, applicants, as well as consumers of government services. All departments must ensure that this handbook is made easily available, particularly in formats such as Braille, audio tapes, etc., that enable easy accessibility for people with different kinds of disabilities).
REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION HANDBOOK THE NEW BUILDING REGULATIONS (SANS 10400) (OCTOBER 2008)
Click on the button below to see the Public Service Reasonable Accommodation Handbook:
The new Section S has been introduced and Section T has been modified to specifically include safe evacuation for people with disabilities – S2 (1) (a) (“persons with disabilities shall be able to safely enter the building, use all the facilities subject to the provisions of sub-regulation (3) within it and leave it”). Also S2 (1) (c) “There shall be a means of egress suitable for use by persons with disabilities from any point in a building to a place of safety in the event of an emergency.”
NEW BUILDING REGULATIONS
Click on the button below to see the New Building Regulations:
Although there is a fairly low level of enforcement under the above, more attention is being given to the rights of people with disabilities. Legal advice has indicated that any person who has suffered injury or damages due to failure by an employer or building owner to make special provisions in terms of the above, would certainly have a very strong case in a court of law, also referring to the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.
ARE YOU AWARE OF YOUR OBLIGATIONS?
HOW WILL EVERYONE ESCAPE
As a person responsible for business premises you have an obligation to your staff and the people who use your building to ensure there are adequate fire precautions in place.
HAVE YOU PLANNED YOUR ESCAPE ROUTE?
Under the SANS 10400: Part T, a responsible person must carry out a Fire Risk Assessment on the building as part of the compliance and identify all appropriate escape routes for use in emergency.
HAVE YOU MADE SURE PEOPLE CAN ESCAPE SAFELY, EVEN AT NIGHT IF NECESSARY?
This means having the correct safety equipment in place, ensuring all emergency exits are clearly identified and emergency lighting is installed to aid escape in the dark or during a power failure.
DOES ALL YOUR SAFETY EQUIPMENT WORK?
There is no point in having safety equipment if it is not in full working order. All equipment should be properly maintained and regularly checked and serviced by approved contractors
WILL PEOPLE KNOW WHAT TO DO AND HOW TO USE THE EQUIPMENT?
Ensure that all your members of staff are fully aware of the evacuation procedures and the designated people are fully trained on how to use the safety equipment. Refresher courses and practice sessions should be held on a regular basis.