Addressing Accessibility: The Importance of Evacuation Chairs in Office Buildings

 In Blog

Embracing accessible practices is a modern-day must for businesses and offices everywhere. And rightfully so. A workspace that takes accessibility seriously factors every single person into their day-to-day operations and into situational occurrences — like their emergency response plan should an emergency present itself.

Here, we’re going to discuss the importance of creating an accessible workplace, the benefits that businesses can enjoy by addressing accessibility, and how evacuation chairs can play a vital role in office buildings looking to fully adopt accessible practices — we are the evacuation chair experts, after all!

The Importance of Addressing Accessibility in Office Buildings

Businesses within office buildings have a responsibility to work towards creating an accessible workspace. This is not only an ethical choice, but it also has a multitude of benefits, both social and legal.

Accessibility May Fall Under the Law

In 2019, the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) was instated. Its primary mission is to create a barrier-free community by 2040 by identifying and removing barriers that may impede individuals, especially those with disabilities, in seven priority areas, one of which is employment.

In Section 125 of Part II of the Canada Labour Code, all employers have a responsibility to “comply with prescribed standards relating to fire safety and emergency measures … and ensure, in the prescribed manner, that employees have safe entry to, exit from and occupancy of the workplace.”

In most areas, building managers and businesses are legally required to have an evacuation plan, meaning their building evacuation process will ensure team members can move to safety quickly and safely.

An Accessible Workspace Can Attract Top Talent

Studies have found that if certain improvements were made to Canadian workplaces, over half a million people with disabilities could work additional hours. The same survey noted that “57% of Canadians with physical disabilities who are currently unemployed believe they’d be able to work if workplaces were more accessible.”

This many newly employed people would boost the country’s gross domestic product by almost $17 billion come 2030. For employers, it’s always better to have a wider pool of talent to choose from during the recruitment process.

A study by Glassdoor found that over 75% of those seeking employment want to find an employer with a diverse workforce; for many, this is a key factor when looking for work.

Employee Belief Is Strengthened

A business that takes strides to create a supportive and diverse workplace will likely have employees who feel confident in the company’s position.

A Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission and Deloitte study noted, “Employees who perceive their organization is committed to, and supportive of, diversity and who feel included are 80% more likely to believe they work in a high-performing organization.”

A Stronger Retention Rate

A positive employee retention rate is one of the keys to success for any business. A core team saves money, builds loyalty, and can boost your brand’s reputation. An inclusive and accessible work environment means that employee needs are being met and can foster a feeling of belonging.

A study by the Society of Human Resources Management found that when employers empower team members to feel a part of the company, there is:

  • a 50% lower risk of turnover,
  • 75% fewer sick days used, and
  • a 56% increase in job performance.

The merits of accessibility are clear, so how can it be honed in the workplace?

“A close-up shot of someone’s torso and left arm. They have a crutch. They’re wearing a pink tee and blue checked shorts

How to Address Accessibility

Creating an accessible office building is essential. As highlighted here — in addition to being the correct move ethically — it allows you to attract more progressive clients and a more diverse workforce. Further, an accessible building allows easy and comfortable access for visiting customers, clients, and members of the public.

If you’re researching ways to make your office building more accessible, remember that not every disability is visible. It’s predicted that approximately 10% of Americans live with a disability that’s not outwardly apparent. By leaving an open-door policy for feedback from tenants, you’re taking steps toward creating a safe and comfortable building.

Second, by making physical, technological, and social changes to the building and investing in tools like emergency evacuation chairs, you’re showing your commitment to accessibility while creating a far safer space.

Technological Updates that Address Accessibility

Some basic tech upgrades to help you on your path might include:

  • the inclusion of alt text on digital images,
  • training modules in different learning styles,
  • voice-powered technology,
  • screen readers, and
  • accessible keyboards.

Social Updates that Address Accessibility

Consider more flexible work hours and additional health benefits, allowing employees to work remotely or in hybrid scenarios.

Tangible Updates that Address Accessibility

Some updates to make your office building more accessible include:

  • wheelchair ramps,
  • accessible restrooms with bars, motion lights and a heightened commode,
  • braille signs,
  • adjustable lighting,
  • disabled only parking, and
  • emergency response tools that can help individuals with mobility challenges in case of an emergency — including evacuation chairs.

The Importance of Evacuation Chairs in Office Buildings

An evacuation is a distressing and harrowing experience for everyone. However, it can be incredibly challenging for people with disabilities, those with temporary injuries, seniors, and pregnant people.

Generally, non-disabled persons can seamlessly navigate stairs, doors, and busy hallways during an emergency, while those with diverse abilities — permanent or temporary — may require help. For this reason, creating an evacuation plan that acknowledges different abilities is vital.

Evacuation chairs should be a crucial part. They make it possible for a pre-identified team member to assist and accompany other team members with mobility issues to safety during an emergency evacuation when elevators may have shut down.

Chairs are equipped with a harness or simple belt that securely holds the passenger in place. The chair is easy to deploy and easy to navigate in both transit and descent mode — making the journey convenient and smooth for both the assistant and the rider.

While Evacuscape chairs are straightforward and simple to use, we do recommend that you dedicate time to evacuation chair training for your employees. This keeps their use top-of-mind and allows you to check the chair for damage on a semi-frequent basis.

The Takeaway

If you’re a building or office manager, know that as the world progresses, so must our commitment to creating diverse, inclusive, and accessible workspaces. With one in five Canadian adults expected to have a disability by 2036, it’s important to consider how we use our business spaces on a day-to-day basis and how we can equip them to serve us better in the event of an emergency.

The success of present and future companies and the safety and well-being of team members relies on it.

Connect with us today if you need help choosing an evacuation chair model and to learn more about our Evacuscape chairs. Purchasing evacuation chairs is one way to address accessibility and to guarantee that your tenants, team members, visitors and guests with mobility issues can evacuate safely — along with everyone else.

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