According to the Equality Act 2010, schools and educational premises have a duty to make reasonable adjustments where necessary for anyone with a disability. So, what is a reasonable adjustment? And, what can schools and universities do to improve access for all and meet fire safety requirements in education?
What is a reasonable adjustment?
The Equality Act 2010 tackles disability discrimination in schools and other organisations or businesses across society. It sets out a responsibility to remove barriers experienced by someone who has a disability. Anyone who has a disability should be able to receive the same service as far as possible as someone who is not disabled. What is considered a ‘reasonable’ adjustment will depend on things like the size of the organisation, and the money and resources available. It will also depend on the needs of the individuals who attend the setting.
Reasonable adjustments and fire safety in education
The adjustments you need to make to meet legal requirements for disability and fire safety will depend on what is set out in your fire risk assessment. It will also depend on the needs of the individuals who attend your school or university.
What examples are there of reasonable adjustments in schools or higher education establishments for fire safety?
A reasonable adjustment can be:
A change to the way things are done such as a change to a rule or policy. For example, this might involve a change to an escape route.
A change to a physical or architectural feature in a building or outside areas. This could include using a fire door retainer on internal fire doors to allow easier access for all or installing visual fire alarm beacons with louder audible sirens for anyone who has a hearing impairment.
Provision of extra services or aids. This could include providing an evacuation aid such as an evacuation chair.
The type of changes and extra aids or services will depend entirely on your circumstances and the needs of the individuals who attend your school or university. Fire safety requirements will be set out in detail in your fire risk assessment and should be implemented.
Fire door retainers and the Equality Act 2010
Fire door retainers such as Dorgard are a cost-effective and easy to install solution for improving access for all in schools and universities. Fire doors are a necessity in many buildings but can be a barrier to anyone with a mobility impairment as they are heavy to operate and difficult to manoeuvre in a wheelchair.
Dorgard is certified and tested to British Standards EN1155:1997 and EN 1634. It is a legal solution for holding open fire doors. This allows easier access for everyone including any disabled users with a mobility impairment. When the fire alarm sounds in your building, Dorgard will release the fire door so that it closes and provides the usual protection. You should never wedge or prop open fire doors using an uncertified device or object. The fire doors will be unable to provide any protection if they are open when a fire starts.
The University of London’s College Hall has found Dorgard to be an effective solution to accessibility in their building.
As the responsible person it is your legal obligation to ensure that adequate emergency lighting is installed across all the escape routes and exits from every area of the building with a minimum backup duration of between 1 and 3 hours. Emergency lighting is essential to light escapes routes for emergency evacuations when normal mains-powered lighting fails.
There are different types of emergency lights, some function as a normal light and others function only as an emergency light source. As a starting point you should know what type of emergency light you want to install for example; do you want a maintained emergency light (stays on constantly) or a non-maintained emergency light (illuminates only in the event of a mains power failure)?
Where to install emergency lights and signs
When deciding where to install emergency lights, take into account any hazards that there may be along the evacuation route, such as corners, stairways or uneven flooring. You must also ensure that fire alarm call points and equipment used for firefighting, such as extinguishers or fire blankets, are adequately illuminated to be easily seen or located. Some areas will require continued operation (e.g. a chemical processing room, operation theatre etc); higher continued lighting requirements must be considered in these areas.
A sub-category of emergency lighting is fire exit signs, which are green ‘running man’ signs with arrows that guide people towards the nearest exits. These are either internally lit in the same fashion as space emergency lighting or, in case sufficient other emergency lights are available, they can be photoluminescent. Such ‘glow-in-the-dark signs store energy from either natural or artificial light and releases this stored energy when the light source is no longer there, emitting a yellow/green glow to illuminate the text on the sign.
You should refer to your fire risk assessment to ensure that you have covered all the essential fire escape routes and addressed any hazards on your site that were highlighted in this assessment. It is a legal requirement to carry out a fire risk assessment and you should refresh this assessment if the activities within your premises change or if significant changes to the layout are made. You can find authoritative guidance in the government's fire risk assessment guides.
As with all fire safety equipment, regular testing of your emergency lights must be carried out to ensure that it is working correctly. You should test that the lights are triggered when the mains supply is cut, and also that all the lights are illuminated as they should be. This can be done with the use of a fish key.
You will need to test your lighting once a month and ensure that a full discharge test is carried once a year. Log the results as any other fire safety equipment tests in your fire safety logbook.
If you would like to know more about emergency lighting our emergency lighting guides can provide you with useful information.
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As a responsible company Safelincs is monitoring the situation closely. Within the supply chain we are taking steps to ensure that our main product lines and services are still available. Where appropriate, alternative suppliers are being sourced and integrated into Safelincs’ supply chain. Our commitment to providing excellent customer service and the supply of critical safety products and services is at the forefront of our business.
Safelincs is also proactively implementing special measures and acting in line with government guidance and best practice to ensure the well-being of our employees and those we interact with.
Making Safelincs a greener business has been one of our main initiatives since moving to the new site in December 2017. After investing into energy saving projects, such as the complete roll-out of LED lighting replacing fluorescent and sodium lights, Safelincs have now also made a huge investment into the installation of 1000sqm of solar PV panels, equating to a staggering 146kw of renewable energy.
‘We are very proud to be able to supply the business with our own green electricity.’ said Harry Dewick-Eisele MD, ‘Reducing our carbon footprint is important to us as a company and this is just one of many initiatives we are implementing’.
The solar panels are expected to cover most of Safelincs’ energy needs and will pave the way for future expansion and developments.
Carbon monoxide is deadly and the only way to detect it is with a carbon monoxide alarm. Caroline Toombes found this out on a recent camping trip when she hooked up the generator on her new horse box living accommodation for the first time.
Caroline said ‘we were happily enjoying our evening using the generator as we didn’t have a hook-up. Our carbon monoxide detector went off. It turned out to be fumes from the generator and showed the highest levels’. She went on to say ‘the alarm was a life saver, what if we hadn’t had it’.
It is important to remember that when camping, carbon monoxide is a real threat. If you are sleeping in a tent, caravan, mobile home or horse box living quarters, you are at risk. Not only are internal gas appliances a risk, wind can also blow carbon monoxide fumes into your camping accommodation from outside cooking equipment such as camping stoves and BBQs.
Make sure that you have the correct CO detector for camping, as not all CO detectors are suitable. Ensure that your portable carbon monoxide detector is Kitemarked to BS EN50291-2 (camping / caravans / boats), that way you can have peace of mind whilst enjoying your free time and holidays.
A huge number of visitors at the London Build 2017 show at the Olympia used the opportunity to test our Axel Thoms Escape Chute, a high-rise evacuation chute used for fire and emergency evacuations. It was great to see the support from Councils, architects, fire safety professionals and construction companies who took the time to find out more about the Axel Thoms Escape Chute, which can be used for buildings of up to 120m in height.
While not in use, the chute is invisible from the outside. It is stored in a box underneath the designated window. It can evacuate 15 people per minute and can be used without any waiting time between subsequent users. Inside the chute there is a helix spiral that controls the decent speed of users to a safe 2m per second and keeps users at a safe distance to each other. The chute can be used by adults, pregnant women, disabled people and children over 2 years, babies and toddlers can be carried by an adult during the safe descent.
The chute has been in production for 37 years. Thousands of the chutes have been installed worldwide and in the UK, with applications in housing, offices, government buildings, hotels, and as temporary evacuation cover on construction sites.
Each Axel Thoms Escape Chute installation is unique and to ensure that you are confident in how to use an escape chute before purchase, Safelincs offers free site surveys and can carry out test-installs with portable systems that can be installed quickly and without the use of fixings. On installation of your own Axel Thoms Escape Chute suitable anchor points underneath the inside of your window or on your roof top will be used.
If you would like to know more about the Axel Thoms Escape Chute or discuss your needs, please contact Safelincs on 0800 612 6537 and we will be happy to arrange a visit with you.
This week sees Project Shout, a national awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, launch its 2017 campaign.
Research carried out by Project Shout reveals that the suspected cases of CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning are ten times higher than previously thought. This means that a staggering 2500 cases of CO poisoning occur each year across England and Wales alone.
CO poisoning can have severe long term effects on health and causes around 50 deaths a year. Spreading awareness of the danger of this deadly gas is the ethos of Project Shout. Rob Lyon, campaign director for Project SHOUT, said: “These numbers are very concerning and highlight the fact that we need to do more to tackle the dangers of carbon monoxide and raise awareness of the symptoms.”
It is estimated that a staggering 40 million people are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. This deadly gas cannot be smelt, seen or tasted. The only way to protect yourself is by having a CO alarm in your home. An alarm should be installed in every room where a fuel burning appliances is fitted. Carbon monoxide is produced from the incomplete combustion of a fossil fuel such as coal, gas, oil and wood.
Safelincs proudly supports Project Shout and is offering up to 33% discount on selected CO alarms. Make sure you are protected today.
Researchers at Dundee University have worked hard to develop a smoke alarm with a low pitch alarm sound and a voice message that helps to wake up children if there is a fire at night. The most successful alarm version, the researchers found, was a combined low pitch sound followed by a female voice saying ‘Wake up, the house is on fire’. A laudable project and the fruit of it will hopefully help families in the future to improve the safety of their children.
While we are greeting this development as an important break-through, we analysed the issue at hand a bit further.
Having early notification of a fire is only one element to ensure you and your children have the best chance of surviving a house fire. Teaching your children, including very young ones, what to do on hearing the alarm will prevent them from panicking and from walking out of their bedroom into a potentially dangerous situation.
You may decide that the best route of action is for your child to stay in their bedrooms and to wait for you there or for them to make their way to your room ready to evacuate. No matter what your course of action, it is imperative that children have been given clear instructions and that the fire drill is practiced.
It is essential that both parents and children get notified of a fire immediately. The best way to achieve this is to have the smoke alarms interlinked throughout the house. So, if a smoke alarm is triggered in a child’s bedroom or anywhere else in the house, the alarm would not only be raised in the bedroom of the child but also in the parents’ bedroom. Interlinking gives the maximum warning time to the parents even if, for example, a fire starts in the downstairs kitchen. This is crucial when every second counts.
Interlinking can be achieved in a traditional way with wires spanning from alarm to alarm, however, easier options are now available with battery powered radio-interlinked smoke alarms being a simple-to-install solution.
Whilst we wait for this new smoke alarm to progress through the developmental stages we should make sure that our own current fire safety precautions and evacuation plans are reviewed and where possible improved upon.
For further advice about fire safety in the home you can visit our fire prevention page.
Vattenfall is one of Europe’s largest generators of renewable electricity. 100 per cent owned by the Swedish state it operates wind power turbines in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
Vattenfall is keen to set new standards regarding the Health and Safety in all of its locations for employees and also for contractors and visitors who may attend these sites.
In the UK this commitment has been demonstrated by the company taking the initiative to provide automated external defibrillator (AED) units in each of its site buildings and to provide units in lifting bags which technicians can lift up into the turbine nacelles when undertaking significant work. The aim of providing these AEDs is that anyone on site should have significantly faster access to life-saving equipment should they need it.
Safelincs has supplied Zoll AED Plus defibrillators to Vattenfall, a life-saving piece of equipment which not only delivers a controlled shock to save a patient from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) but provides CPR feedback and instructions to the first aider. The help feature gives audible and visual prompts for the rate and depth of chest compressions being administered during rescue. This AED is a semi-automatic device which can be used by minimally-trained members of staff.
We are frequently asked by our customers at what age a child can effectively use a defibrillator without supervision. After carrying out some research and interviewing a number of specialists, as well as reading relevant studies, we created an easy to understand article which gives some reasonable recommendations. While children as young as 11 to 12 can use a modern defibrillator, a child is usually around 13 to 14 years old before they can provide efficient CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Read the full article.
If you have any questions about defibrillators or require replacement electrodes, just call 0800 612 6537 and our friendly staff will be happy to help.