How Evacuation Chairs Can be Beneficial On a Construction Site

 In Blog

The construction industry is booming. In fact, in 2030, the global construction industry is expected to be twice as large as it was just ten years prior. And with rapid growth comes large-scale employment opportunities; in Canada alone, approximately 1.5 million employed or self-employed persons work in the construction sector.

With such a high population working in the building industry, measures should be taken to ensure the safe evacuation of all persons in the event of an emergency. Emergency situations include, but are not limited to:

  • fires,
  • a partial building collapse,
  • extreme weather conditions (snowstorms, floods, earthquakes, tornados, etc.),
  • gas leaks, and
  • extended power outages.

In any of these situations, preparing for an emergency in advance is paramount for the safe evacuation of all construction crew team members.

This is especially true in an industry with a heightened probability of dangerous, life-threatening situations. In the U.S., four construction-specific roles — construction helpers, construction supervisors, construction workers and construction equipment operators — featured prominently in a study which analyzed the Top 25 Most Dangerous Jobs. With such an everyday propensity for danger, there’s always room for improved employee safety.

What Are Evacuation Chairs?

For those with reduced mobility, flights of stairs might be unfeasible; furthermore, in an emergency situation, power might be lost, rendering elevators unusable. With no infrastructure in place, persons with disabilities or reduced mobility may be left stranded.

An evacuation chair allows for the safe evacuation of all persons during an emergency situation (such as those mentioned above). They’re tools to help an individual or individuals (depending on the chair type) move another person (whom we’ll call the passenger) in the chair down sets of stairs when the need arises.

Evacuscape chairs are easy to store and easy to use — they move seamlessly from transport mode to descent mode so that the operator and the passenger can move quickly and comfortably to safety.

In instances of a dense population of residents or team members — like on some construction sites — the ownership of multiple emergency evacuation chairs is recommended. One per floor is ideal.

The corner of a building under heavy construction with a worker standing at the building’s edge

The Special Benefits of Evacuation Chairs on a Construction Site

As discussed above, construction sites can be dangerous places — construction roles add up to 16% of the 25 Most Dangerous Jobs in the United States, with similar figures mirrored in other countries. Reasons for injury stem from serious falls and being struck by falling objects to workers being electrocuted.

In any industry, managers and owners should take any opportunity that’s presented to them to boost employee safety and comfort; chairs for a building evacuation are an excellent place to begin. Here are just a few benefits of having a chair (or chairs) on your site.

The Safe Evacuation of All Team Members and Site Visitors: An evacuation chair allows all persons to be safely evacuated, including the following:

  • those with injuries that limit mobility,
  • seniors,
  • people with joint-related problems or arthritis (a common issue on worksites where team members are repeatedly carrying heavy objects and are regularly operating hefty, vibrating machinery),
  • people with visual impairments,
  • people with respiratory challenges or heart issues, and
  • pregnant persons.

It’s worth noting that not all persons with reduced mobility may be outwardly apparent. Simply because a challenge isn’t visually present in a team member doesn’t mean that it won’t arise in an emergency situation where an evacuation is hurried and distressing.

Furthermore, construction sites can have visitors almost daily, including architects, investors, and office staff — an emergency chair will guarantee the safety of both team members and guests.

Employee Retention: By going one step above and thinking about every facet of site safety, employees will feel safer, more secure and seen — uplifting team loyalty and content.

Boosted Brand Reputation and a Better Ability to Attract Talent: In addition to the safety benefits of an evacuation chair, the ownership of one on a construction site allows a more inclusive approach to the hiring of team members and a boosted appeal when negotiating client relationships.

People with mobility challenges will likely be happier knowing that there’s an emergency response plan that caters fully to them, while making your site stand out from the crowd.

How Do You Use an Evacuation Chair?

As discussed, the ownership of an evacuation chair on a construction site is essential for an inclusive approach to your emergency evacuation plan. However, almost as equally important to owning a chair is making sure that it’s used correctly. Here are some additional measures that should be taken to use these items to their fullest potential should the occasion for use arise.

Emergency Evacuation Plan: A great place to begin is by including the location of the evacuation chair in your emergency response plan. If the evacuation chairs are newly acquired, there should be a priority placed on updating the plan and its supporting maps.

Team Training: How to use the chair will vary between different evacuation chair models. Fortunately, chairs often come with a training DVD and a manual. It’s recommended for relevant team members to receive an in-person training session to learn how to operate the chair — physically practicing using the chair is recommended.

Chairs should move relatively easily. If resistance or a struggle is met during operation, the operator’s technique may need to be altered. Team members who are trained in how to physically operate the chair should also be trained in how to respond during an emergency situation. Include the following details in an emergency response plan with key personnel made aware of such information:

  • How do persons who require assistance relay this need during an emergency?
  • Where is the refuge point (the location where persons in need await aid)?
  • Where is the chair located? It’s recommended that chairs are located close to the refuge points.

Take Away

It’s a business owner’s and foreperson’s social and legal obligation to ensure the safety of their team on site. Employers who go above and beyond will gain team loyalty and trust while ensuring a secure and inclusive workplace. Give us a call today to find out which evacuation chair is suitable for your site.

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