Any company that truly values their workforce will make accessibility a priority when planning office fitouts. Ensuring the safety, comfort and mobility of every individual is the only way to guarantee that each person feels valued within the organisation – as well as empowered to do their job. In this article, we run through a few key initiatives a building manager can take to improve the accessibility of the facility.
Create an access handbook
At the outset it’s always useful to have a blueprint for your company’s accessibility objectives before embarking on a major office fitout. This should be written with company management, maintenance staff and the general workforce in mind, and should be informative on matters including:
- Local transport and general guidance on how to get to the building
- Standard procedures for evacuating the building, including exit points, drill protocols and alarm locations
- A thorough outline of management’s responsibility as they relate to employee safety and comfort
- A template for a maintenance audit, including standardised checklists for surveying the premises
- Signage guidelines for improving visibility of important safety notices
With these key points and safety objectives set down, it will be easier to take a concerted and systematic approach with any major office fitouts.
Where to start
An excellent place to start would be the Access Handbook Template created by the National Disability Authority to aid Irish businesses in making their premises more accessible. In addition, it can be both informative and time-saving to commission an audit by an accessibility specialist who is familiar with the following rules and guidelines:
- BS 8300:2009+A1:2010 Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people. Code of practice
- Technical Guidance Document Part M — Access and Use (2010)
- Building for Everyone: A Universal Design Approach
The National Disability Authority in Ireland offers a number of resources for arranging an accessibility audit, chief amongst which are its Guidelines for Access Auditing of the Built Environment”.
Areas to cover
Whilst every premises will present its own unique challenges for office executives, there are a few areas that need to be made a priority for office fitouts. These include:
- Ensuring that bathrooms are accessible to anyone, regardless of physical disabilities. This may necessitate installing specialised disabled bathrooms.
- Check that lifts are installed and operated according to best practice guidelines
- Where possible, avoid having steps in the office environment. If they are necessary, ensure that ramp access is also provided
- Make sure that there is more than one exit route in case of emergencies, where necessary (if all staff are less than 13m from the exit, one exit is sufficient)
- Establish that there are disabled parking spaces outside the building
Creative Space Services provides office fitouts to improve accessibility
Designing and implementing modern workspaces is what we do best, and over the years we’ve worked with some of Ireland’s top companies to deliver to deliver bespoke office fitouts. Improving accessibility is one of the cornerstones of how we work. Have a look at some of our past office fitouts to get an idea for the exemplary work we do. If you’re interested in modernising your office, get in touch now – we look forward to talking with you.
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