- By Miles Liesching
- 21st Jul 2023
Making Your Workplace More Accessible
Accessibility is a fundamental right that every employee deserves in the workplace. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their work environment is accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical abilities. Making a workplace accessible is not only a legal requirement, but it also creates a positive and inclusive work environment.
In this article, we will discuss some of the important aspects space planning consultants consider when designing an accessible workplace and the legal requirements for businesses in the UK.
The Importance of Making Your Workplace Accessible
Making your workplace accessible is not only a legal requirement but also a moral obligation. It is essential to ensure that all employees, including those with disabilities, can work in a safe and comfortable environment. By providing an accessible workplace, you are sending a message that everyone is welcome, and their contributions are valued.
An accessible workplace can also increase productivity and morale. When employees feel included and valued, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated. It can also attract a more diverse range of candidates, which can lead to new perspectives and ideas. By making your workplace accessible, you are creating a positive and inclusive work environment that benefits everyone.
Legal Requirements for Accessible Workplaces
Employers must ensure that their workplace is accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes providing reasonable accommodations that allow employees to perform their job duties. Reasonable accommodations can include installing ramps and lifts, widening doorways, and providing accessible parking, all of which can be implemented during an office fit-out.
Employers must also ensure that their workplace is free from discrimination. This includes ensuring that individuals have equal access to job opportunities, training, and benefits. Failure to comply can result in legal action, including fines and penalties.
Lifts and Ramps for Easier Access
Lifts and ramps are essential components of an accessible workplace. They provide individuals with disabilities easy access to different levels of the workplace. Lifts are particularly useful for employees who use wheelchairs or have difficulty using stairs. They can be installed in existing buildings and can be tailored to fit specific needs.
Ramps are another essential component of an accessible workplace. They provide a gradual slope that allows individuals with disabilities to access different levels of the workplace easily. Ramps can be made from various materials, including concrete, wood, and metal. They must be designed to meet legal requirements, including slope, width, and edge protection.
The Importance of Space to Manoeuvre Wheelchairs
An essential aspect of an accessible workplace is providing adequate space to manoeuvre wheelchairs. This includes ensuring that doorways are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and that there is enough space to turn around. It is also important to ensure that there is enough space between desks and workstations to allow employees to move around comfortably.
Providing adequate space to manoeuvre wheelchairs can also improve safety in the workplace. It can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries and ensure that employees can evacuate the building quickly in case of an emergency.
Designing Wheelchair Accessible Communal Spaces
During a commercial refurbishment, it's essential to create communal spaces that are accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes providing accessible restrooms, break rooms, and meeting rooms. It is also important to ensure that these spaces are designed with the needs of individuals with disabilities in mind.
Accessible restrooms should include grab bars, accessible sinks, and toilet stalls that are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. Break rooms and meeting rooms should be designed with adequate space to manoeuvre wheelchairs and ensure that individuals with disabilities can participate fully.
The Choice of Materials and Colours Used in the Design
The choice of materials and colours used in the interior design of an accessible workplace can have a significant impact. It is important to choose materials that are durable and easy to maintain. It is also important to choose colours that are easy to distinguish and provide adequate contrast.
When choosing materials and colours, it is also essential to consider the needs of individuals with disabilities. For example, individuals with visual impairments may require materials and colours that provide adequate contrast. Individuals with mobility impairments may require materials that are slip-resistant and easy to navigate.
Disability Compliant Furniture
Providing disability compliant furniture is another essential aspect of an accessible workplace. This includes providing adjustable desks, chairs, and other equipment that can be tailored to individual needs. It is also important to ensure that furniture is designed with ergonomics in mind and provides adequate support.
Disability compliant furniture can improve productivity and reduce the risk of injuries. It can also ensure that individuals with disabilities can perform their job duties comfortably and safely.
Tips for Designing an Accessible Workspace
Designing an accessible workspace requires careful planning and attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you create an accessible workplace:
- Consult with individuals with disabilities to understand their needs and preferences.
- Ensure that all areas of the workplace are accessible, including entrances, exits, and communal spaces.
- Provide adequate space to manoeuvre wheelchairs and ensure that doorways are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs.
- Choose materials and colours that are durable, easy to maintain, and accessible to individuals with disabilities.
- Provide disability compliant furniture that is adjustable and designed with ergonomics in mind.
Designing an accessible workspace requires careful planning and attention to detail. By consulting with individuals with disabilities, choosing the right materials and colours, and providing disability compliant furniture, you can create a positive and inclusive work environment that benefits everyone.
Westcountry Group has a team of space planning consultants who can help you create an accessible workplace to meet the needs of all your employees and customers. Contact us today on 0330 030 0330 to learn more about our office fit-outs and commercial refurbishments.