As a premises that is open to the public, offices, drop in centres, and other council buildings have a legal responsibility to make sure that they are easily accessible and safe for any visitors. Under legislation set out by the UK Government, non-domestic premises that provide services to the public are required to meet standards that improve accessibility and the fire safety of a premises.
Particularly if you are a customer focused premises, it is essential that you make sure your building is accessible to all. Under the Equality Act 2010, you are legally required to make reasonable changes to a premises so that those with disabilities can access it with ease.
Reasonable changes include, but are not limited to, adapting exits and entrances so that they are easier to use. This can mean that a premises is required to install ramps and automatic doors to high-traffic areas such as main entrances and service areas.
While changes made to a council building may be done to legally comply with the Equality Act, installing and maintaining automatic doors is also beneficial to all employees and members of the public visiting the premises. Automatic doors improve ease of access for all individuals, including those with pushchairs or large deliveries.
An automatic door with a sliding operator or a swing operator does not compromise security, as premises can opt to have a security device installed with the operator. These include remote push buttons and keypad or card readers for areas that require restricted or controlled access.
The Equality Act 2010 means that service providers must action reasonable changes prior to an individual with disabilities experiencing difficulties to access the premises, so building managers should begin to plan and implement changes immediately. When adapting entrances and exits of a premises, building managers should refer to Approved Document M - Access to and Use of Buildings to ensure that planned adaptions comply with Building Regulations.
All work premises and buildings open to the public must comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This includes ensuring that the premises has a clear fire safety plan, carries out regular Fire Risk Assessments, and has the appropriate fire safety equipment installed. The nature of a premises changes the type of risk assessment and fire safety equipment required, however, all premises are expected to action fire safety procedures and contain fire safety equipment.
Council premises that are accessed by the public will need to find the appropriate Fire Safety Risk Assessment document from the UK Government’s website should they not already be aware of the business category they fall under.
Installation of fire safety equipment, including alarms, extinguishers, and fire shutters and curtains provides measures that protect against outbreak of fire. Installing smoke and fire curtains in high risk areas of a premises, including canteen and kitchen areas and spaces with large amounts of electrical equipment can help reduce the risk of spread of fire should an outbreak occur.
Fire curtains can be installed to deploy upon being triggered by an alarm, and can be used to produce clear walkways for the safe evacuation of a premises. HAG’s FireGuard Curtain FC120 and Fireguard Smoke Curtain SC120 provide up to 2 hours integrity, and are tested to BS EN 1634-1:2008. The curtains have a gravity fail safe that means that should there be a mains power failure and the backup battery has depleted, the curtain will still deploy at a steady rate should an alarm be triggered.
Areas that require additional or more frequent protection may need a fire shutter installed rather than a curtain. HAG’s range of fire shutters can provide up to four hours fire protection and are constructed to the latest safety standards. The durable shutters are constructed from galvanised steel providing an additional element of security.
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, all companies must have their fire shutters and curtains regularly maintained. Failure to do so can compromise the effectiveness of the shutter or curtain and can invalidate insurance cover and building fire certification. Regular maintenance will ensure that your premises is protected and that your shutters and curtains are in full working order.
It is also advisable to have regular maintenance carried out on automatic doors. Faults that can occur from regular use can prevent doors from being used, which can have an impact on both the security and accessibility of your premises.
For more information about how HAG’s doors, shutters, and maintenance services can help your council premises meet legal requirements set out by the UK Government, please get in touch with a member of our team by calling 0800 072 3444.