Since the introduction of the Equality Act 2010, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to workplaces and premises so disabled and less able people can move around locations as easily as non-disabled people can.
While many businesses are not intentionally set up to be unwelcoming to those with a physical disability, a large number tend to be a challenge, simply because of building design – and often lack of understanding about where the challenges lie.
ENTRY TO THE BUILDING
The first point of activity, entering the premises should be simple for any ability. Take a look at your entrance – are there any steps? Have you provided railings and grab bars? Perhaps the doors are difficult to open?
Here’s some simple problems you may miss, and some easy solutions to improve your access:
|Steps into building||Grab rails and railings for less able
Ramped entry option
Step or stair lift
Short rise platform lift
External platform lift to another floor
|Heavy, large or tricky doors||Automatic door openers
Press button openers
Smaller or lighter doors
|Small doorway or corridors to entry||Wider doors for wheelchairs|
INSIDE YOUR PREMISES
Offices are generally split over multiple floors, and retail locations can be tricky for the less mobile. Aside from increasing movement space (some ideas below), the main problem is generally getting between floors. Whilst there are quite a few options, a lift is generally the best choice.
For general issues, here is a brief idea of problems and solutions for inside your premises:
|Small or narrow movement areas||Wider aisles, space between desks etc
Clear signage to make it easy to find way around quickly
|Multi-floor use||Lift between floors (see below)
|High surfaces and items||Lower desks, tables, shelves etc
Equipment with changeable heights
|Doors||Light doors or automatic openers
Press button openers
Glass panels in doors for visibility
ACCESS LIFTS FOR BUSINESS
An access lift is often the most reliable, familiar and common solution to accessibility problems at a business.There are a few options, dependant on space, budget and useage.
Escalators are often used in retail environments – with such high use, having a constant movement is ok. But for an office, the huge space and cost are unsuitable, and the constant movement uses alot of power for low use areas.
A stairlift is suitable if you have a very low use, single stairway, and space and appearance aren’t a big issue. Stairlifts are the lowest cost option and are familiar but are associated with homes generally.
A platform lift is a low cost, energy efficient equivalent for a conventional lift, and is ideal for most situations – though if you have over 6 floors or a very, very busy location (such as a hotel) then it may not be suitable.
A conventional lift is great for high use, tall buildings, but the cost and extra building works are often unsuitable for many businesses. These lifts are familiar to customers but cannot be moved, and take a long time to install.
COMPARING ACCESS LIFTS
|Good For||Bad For|
|Stairlift||Single, short stairway
Plenty of space
Appearance not an issue
Very infrequent use
Heavily curved or long stairs
Professional, clean appearance
High level of use
|Platform Lift||Up to 6 floors of travel
Can be moved in future
Low cost maintenance
Can be used for goods
|Over 6 floors
Very high level of use
Lower speed (0.15m/s)
|Conventional Lift||Very high use
Long term building use/plans
|Initial cost of lift
Extra building works required
Long lead and install time
Might want to move
High maintenance cost
Find out more about platform lifts with one of our experts – just call 01296 459 079 for advice, support and information.