Lee Wilson has recently undertaken extensive research into enhanced measures for the safe evacuation of buildings for people with disabilities, and for those people who acquire emergent limitations during an emergency. This was part of a masters degree completed with Victoria University.
The Research: A gap exists in the legislative framework relating to the evacuation of people with disabilities under current disability discrimination, building, workplace safety and emergency management laws in Australia.
The gap exposes those members of the community with disabilities, particularly those with sensory or mobility disabilities to the risk of being delayed in their ability to evacuate a building or being entrapped within a building that has been evacuated.
The current building regulatory environment equates to new buildings and refurbished areas of buildings being inclusive and accessible for all members of the community. It is however believed that there remains a substantial gap within the legal framework that is ultimately exposing a percentage of building occupants to an undue risk. This is due to a failure to fully consider the needs of all building occupants during an emergency situation, particularly those people facing a vertical evacuation path within a high rise building.
The objectives of the research were to:
- Review the current legislative requirements for the evacuation of people with disabilities and other limitations from Australian buildings; and
- Identify measures currently required to be provided for people with disabilities within Australian buildings; and
- Consider if these measures are satisfactory and effective when compared to the current requirements overseas; and
- Identify opportunities to develop greater management control mechanisms for people with disabilities when working, entering or visiting commercial buildings.
The research question posed was whether the Australian federal government needs a change in legislation to provide greater safety measures to meet the needs of people with disabilities, and if so, what these changes should include.