Despite Terror Threat, Safe Exit from Shops Not Demanded by Law

The Journal (Newcastle, England), August 31, 2005 | Go to article overview

Despite Terror Threat, Safe Exit from Shops Not Demanded by Law


Byline: By Richard Freeman-Wallace

The terrorist threat has shaken retailers and shoppers alike. What it has also highlighted is the need for stringent emergency plans and evacuation procedures at all shops.

Many larger department stores integrate evacuation plans with the design of the shop. Others, however, do not build in design, or practise for any emergencies other than fire because they are not legally required to do so under the Health and Safety Act.

The current heightened awareness of threats to shops means retailers should review of emergency plans.

Adequate evacuation procedures could soon become a legal necessity. It is much better for you to consider how to deal with these now and make any changes sooner rather than later.

What the exercise may also reveal is that you have to incorporate new building works. The property may need more exits and more waiting bays outside. It may also lead to negotiations with the landlord for extra easements and rights of way.

When developing evacuation procedures for shops, owners must take into account the Disability Discrimi- nation Act.

All customers and employees, able-bodied or disabled, have to be able to leave the store using emergency exits.

Many shops will find they may have adequate emergency stairways, but no exits or procedures equipped for wheelchairs and people with restricted mobility.

A recent ground- breaking case in America ( which could be repli- cated in this country ( resulted in a settlement against a large US retailer, Marshalls, in which it had to agree to adopt emerg- ency evacu- ation proce- dures that consider the needs of shoppers with disabilities in its 700 stores. As a result, Marshalls has become the first American retailer to agree to address the emergency evacuation needs of disabled people. …

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