In 2018, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 236,300 employees with a disability avoided work. This is not to say talented Australians with disabilities shunned work, rather workplaces more often than not did not have access points or appropriate facilities in place to make working equally easy and pleasant for people with disabilities. Here are the top 5 workplace access problems need to be resolved in order to remove the barriers to entry for this brilliant, immobilised talent pool.
- Ramp access
The first step to providing equal workplace access for the disabled is to include an entry access point. This step ensures that anyone with mobility issues can navigate into the building with ease. Many commercial buildings have a short flight of stairs without any nearby ramp or lift access connecting to the entry of a building. Or if they have, often the ramp does not meet the minimum design requirements nominated by the Australian Standards.
- Building doorways
Aside from ramps, workplace doorways must account for wheelchair-bound individuals. There have been cases wherein applicants arrive at the workplace only to discover they cannot enter the building because their wheelchair cannot fit the main entry. Door width and standards have also been specified clearly in the Australian Standards to provide equal access for everyone.
- Service lift or elevators
Once inside the building, there is another hurdle a person with mobility issues must face: getting to another level. While a short flight of stairs for mobile people is not a problem, it’s a different story / experience for someone who has mobility issues and/or is more dependent on a wheelchair for most of the time. Getting up a flight of stairs may make one winded for hours, whereas having a lift or even a ramp will help one navigate the levels with ease.
- Bathroom facilities
Bathrooms and toilets are usually one of the most cramped spaces in workplace buildings, especially when the number of people served is of the utmost importance. However, it’s just not the same for a person with mobility issues. If a wheelchair-bound person cannot access the toilet due to a doorway that doesn’t meet bathroom door regulations or toilet cubicle dimensions, one is simply barred from the most basic physical necessity and can even be more detrimental to a disabled person’s health.
It can even be more inaccessible if the bathroom facility is on an upper level in a building with no lift or even a ramp to help a person with disability access it.
- Workplaces in “heritage” buildings
While the Disability Standard for Access to Premises gives people with disabilities the right to have amenable access points to public spaces and areas, heritage buildings are not an exception to this. Disability Law is Federal Law while Heritage Law is State Law. The provision of accessible access to heritage buildings has resulted in some very creative solutions such as the ‘Sesame’ stair system which retracts to expose a platform lift installation.
Where the workplace is inaccessible, can anyone still wonder why 236,300 Australians with disability cannot secure meaningful employment? These talented, educated Australians and maybe more out of the 4.4 million people with disabilities must be provided equal access to workplaces so they, too, can maximise their human potential, contribute to the economy, improve self esteem and erase anything barring their way to success save for their disability.
Companies like Toyota recognise this potential and have developed a ‘Start Your Impossible’ campaign to start a ‘ground up’ shift in the way the world looks at ability.
Don’t lose out on talents just because of physical impediments in the building structure. If you are a building or company owner who want unprecedented access to a wealth of untapped potential and talent pool, consider having your building inspected for workplace access for the disabled and disability standards for entry and navigation. At iAccess, our access consultants are here to help make your workplace more accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities. Get in touch for a consultation!