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Barrier-free workplaces

If a company employs people with disabilities, the workplace must be barrier-free. The barrier-free design must take into account the individual requirements and the assurance of the employees concerned. Good planning aids are provided, for example, by the employers' liability insurance associations.

The interior and exterior of a company can be designed with ramps or automatic door openers so that employees with disabilities can move around without assistance and perform their work independently. Accessibility not only promotes the productivity of employees, but also prevents accidents at work. If companies already take barrier-free design principles into account during new construction and renovation, this pays off economically in the long term. Subsequent adaptation costs are eliminated and workers without disabilities can also benefit from intelligent solutions.

Accessibility refers not only to the workplace, but also to the work equipment such as the hardware and software, doors and stairs, traffic routes, escape routes, emergency exits, orientation systems, lighting, washrooms and toilets or the furniture.

In general, accessible workplaces should meet the following requirements:

  • Perceptibility
  • Recognizability
  • Accessibility
  • Usability
  • controllability by the user

Depending on the needs of the groups of people, the so-called

  1. two-channel-principle (good accessibility and usability) respectively the
  2. two-senses-principle (good perceptibility and recognizability)

should be applied. For example, information can be displayed via visual-tactile or visual-acoustic sensory channels.

Legal and design requirements for barrier-free workplaces are laid down in the Workplace Ordinance (ArbStättV), in the technical rules for workplaces (ASR) and in various DIN standards and ordinances (e.g. DIN 18040 on barrier-free construction, DIN EN ISO 6285 on ergonomics, VDU workplace ordinance).

The central instrument in occupational safety is the risk assessment. A systematic examination of the workplace shows where there are accident or other health risks and what changes are necessary. Escape routes in particular must be taken into account here. Trained occupational safety specialists carry out such risk assessments. The employers' liability insurance associations can also provide advice and support in this regard.

Companies can obtain advice on barrier-free planning and design from the employers' liability insurance associations. In the case of special disability-specific aspects (e.g. visual impairment, hearing impairment), support is provided above all by the technical advisory services of the Integration Office (Inclusion Office) or the Federal Employment Agency.

Help is also available from the Chambers of Crafts, Chambers of Architects and Engineers or experts specialising in accessibility.