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Streetwise Answers

Hi Streetwise

We employ approximately 50 staff and our existing offices are effectively based in three adjacent old converted houses. 

We are reviewing our fire assessment, evacuation and emergency procedures and want to ensure we  incorporate appropriate procedures for Disabled people. 

We don't currently have any disabled staff or generally have disabled visitors and have not made any building changes to accomodate disable visitors.  Can you advice what we reasonably need to do to satisfy our legal obligations, given there has been no practical issue to date in this regard?

Martin Hartley
Argus Fire


Thank you for using Ask Streetwise. There are lots of sources of information about this issue but not one simple answer. However, the key to this is that you are only  required to do that which is reasonable.


The Disability Discrimination Act
You can access the Act and various other documents
here


How does the Act affect me?
Employers with fewer than 15 employees are no longer exempt from the regulations. You may be required to make reasonable adjustments to physical features of existing buildings and to any new buildings, including Portakabin buildings. Reasonable provision will need to be made for disabled access and use.The regulations are retrospective too – the DDA applies to ALL existing buildings (apart from dwellings), as well as any new ones.

What will happen if I don't provide disabled access? 
 
In April 2000, the Government established the Disability Rights Commission to police the compliance issues relating to the Disability Discrimination Act. However, the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) closed on 28 September 2007. Its responsibility for helping secure civil rights for disabled people has transferred to the new
Equality and Human Rights Commission which opened for business on 1 October 2007.
 
Where else can I get advice? 
 
Your local Building Control office can be found at
(
http://www.labc-services.co.uk/site/index.php)
 
Sources:
 
The Building Regulations 2004 – Approved Document M 
 
Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of Disabled people – code of practice BS8300:2001.
 
Designing to Enable – The Gateshead Access Panel.
 
Centre for Accessible Environments


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