Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans Explained

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan

Employers must make arrangements for the safe evacuation of all employees and visitors in a workplace emergency. For employees with disabilities, this may require a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP).

If you’re asking, ‘What does PEEP stand for in fire safety?’ This guide can help. It explains when they’re necessary and what they should cover.

General Emergency Evacuation Plans

A PEEP is a specific type of evacuation plan. There is also a general type you must be aware of – the aptly named General Emergency Evacuation Plan (GEEP).

A GEEP is necessary for all public buildings or workplaces with transient staff. In an emergency, people unfamiliar with a building’s layout (such as visitors or rarely on-site staff) may struggle to find evacuation routes.

General Emergency Evacuation Plans help overcome this problem. At a glance, a visitor should be able to look at a GEEP and grasp:

  • The building’s layout
  • Evacuation procedures
  • Locations of emergency equipment and communication devices

With this essential information, anyone should be able to plan and execute a quick exit from the building, even if it’s their first time on-site.

A GEEP is also useful for people with restricted mobility. In an emergency, people with impaired movement may need to summon assistance or avoid certain features (such as staircases). They can find the information needed for this on the GEEP.

However, some people may still struggle to evacuate unaided, even if they’re familiar with the building and evacuation plans. In these situations, writing a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan is necessary.

What is a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan?

A PEEP is necessary when someone cannot evacuate safely on their own. It contains all the required information and arrangements to help that person reach safety.

Typically, a PEEP will consider:

  • What assistance is needed, and who will provide that assistance
  • If additional equipment is needed
  • If additional training is needed
  • Safe escape routes

Although many overlap, no two PEEPs should be identical. They must account for the personal circumstances that make independent evacuation unsafe.

Fire Safety Courses

Our fire safety courses provide staff with the knowledge to prevent, respond to and manage fire emergencies. Topics covered include fire awareness, risk assessments, fire door training and fire extinguisher use. The courses also offer advanced training for duty holders, including fire safety inspection and fire warden training.

Who’s Responsible for Writing a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan?

A ‘responsible person’ is tasked with ensuring fire safety duties are met for non-domestic properties.

For workplaces, the employer or business owner is the responsible person. If you’re an employer, you must:

  • Assess fire risks
  • Implement adequate fire safety measures
  • Plan for the safe evacuation of all people in your workplace

This final responsibility includes drawing up PEEPs for staff members who cannot safely evacuate on their own.

Who Needs a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan?

Anyone who can’t evacuate without help must have a PEEP. There are no specific criteria for this. It’s up to you and your employees to jointly agree on the need for a personal plan.

It’s not an exhaustive list, but PEEPs are typically needed when employees have:

  • A visual impairment
  • A hearing impairment
  • A physical impairment
  • Decreased mental capacity

The circumstances that make self-evacuation challenging may be temporary. PEEPs are also a requirement when:

  • Employees have significant but short-term injuries (such as a broken leg)
  • Employees are in the late stages of pregnancy
what does PEEP stand for in fire safety

Does Everyone With a Disability Need One?

No. PEEPs are only needed for people who cannot evacuate safely without aid. A person with a disability does not automatically fit this description. However, abilities can vary widely.

When there’s any doubt about a person’s ability to evacuate independently, you should discuss the possibility together. Asking directly and discreetly respects individuals’ autonomy and ensures that a PEEP is created only if necessary.

Are Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans Required by Law?

Yes. Three pieces of legislation create the need for PEEPs:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (the HSWA)
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the FSO)
  • The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA)

The HSWA underpins health and safety legislation in the UK. Under the HSWA, employers must take steps to protect the health and safety of their employees and anyone else in their workplace. This duty of care extends to safe evacuation.

The FSO sets out the fire safety duties shared by all employers. These duties include establishing emergency evacuation plans for all of your employees.

The DDA bolsters your duties around evacuation. It specifically references the legal requirement to ensure that people with disabilities can exit your building safely in the event of a fire.

What Needs to be Included in a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan?

The circumstances that make a PEEP necessary are unique, so the exact details vary. However, the PEEP must:

  • Designate safe escape routes
  • Identify anyone appointed to help during the evacuation
  • Detail any necessary specialist equipment
  • Locate temporary refuge areas (if the building has any)

The person the PEEP is written for must agree on everything. You must consider their wishes and work together to plan how they can evacuate safely while respecting their autonomy and dignity.

It’s also important to note that your plan must work without intervention from the emergency services. Test the PEEP before any emergency to ensure it’s workable with the staff and resources you’ll have on-site.

Do Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans Need to be Rehearsed?

PEEPs should be practised like any other evacuation plan. The minimum recommendation is every six months.

When rehearsing the plan, it’s essential to involve everyone named, including the people appointed to provide assistance.

Rehearsal can also reveal if appointed helpers need further instruction or training. Delaying your safe evacuation to help someone else is a remarkable commitment. Ensuring all volunteers are well-trained and ready to handle this responsibility is essential for the safe evacuation of everyone involved.

Protecting Every Employee with Fire Safety Training

Creating a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan is a specific fire duty. You might never have to write one. But you’ll definitely need to give every staff member fire safety training as part of their induction.

Fire Awareness Training ensures that every team member, not just those with specific needs, is prepared to act swiftly and safely in the event of a fire. Providing this training not only helps to fulfill legal requirements but also enhances the overall safety culture within your workplace. It covers essential topics such as understanding and recognising fire hazards, minimising risks and knowing how to respond effectively during emergencies.

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Jonathan Goby
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