How Accessible Is Your Business?

14 December 2017

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
Escalator
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)
Escalators
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
Less able
Low budget
Narrow stairways
Heavily curved or long stairs
Professional, clean appearance
High level of use
Wheelchairs
Platform Lift Up to 6 floors of travel
Any user
Low cost
Can be moved in future
Quick installation
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
Familiar environment
Long term building use/plans
Any user
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.