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Barrier-free workplaces

The interior and exterior of a company can be designed by means of ramps or automatic door openers in such a way that employees with disabilities can move around without outside help and carry out 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 in new buildings and conversions, this pays off economically in the long term. Subsequent adaptation costs are eliminated and employees without disabilities can also benefit from intelligent solutions.

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

In general, barrier-free workplaces should meet the following requirements:

  • Perceptibility
  • Recognizability
  • Reachability
  • 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) or the
  2. Two-sense principle (good perceptibility and recognizability)

to use. For example, information can be displayed via visual-tactile or visual-acoustic sensory pathways.

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 for barrier-free building, DIN EN ISO 6285 for ergonomics, VDU workplace ordinance).

The central instrument in occupational safety is the risk assessment. A systematic inspection of the workplace shows where there are accident or other health risks and what changes are necessary. Escape routes are particularly important here. Trained occupational safety specialists carry out such risk assessments. The employers' liability insurance associations can also provide advice and support.

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

Assistance is also provided by the chambers of trade, chambers of architects and engineers or experts specializing in accessibility.