When running a business, you need to think of everything from the most obvious aspects of your operations to the most minute detail. Overlooking anything could set your company up for difficulties or even lawsuits. From policies regarding your employees to your customers’ experiences on your company’s premises, you need to assess everything.
When it comes to your clients or customers, it is important that you take into account patrons who may have disabilities or special needs. Not only would you be a conscientious business owner by making your place of business accessible to everyone, but you would also be following the law. In particular, you may want to ensure that you have handrails and that those handrails comply with regulations set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
What does the ADA say about handrails?
You may think that it is obvious for stairs to have handrails, but you may not know every place in your establishment that may need a handrail, how you should position those handrails and what specifications they must meet. Some details regarding handrails and ADA compliance include the following:
- If changes in ground level greater than half an inch occur, ramps and curb ramps require handrails.
- If a ramp has a rise greater than six inches, a handrail is necessary.
- If a handicap-accessible path has a slope steeper than 5%, you need to install handrails.
- Make sure that the handrail spans the entire length of any path, route, ramp or stairway.
You may also want to keep in mind that California may have specific requirements regarding handrails and accessibility, so check for those requirements when assessing your compliance with accessibility regulations.
What to consider when installing handrails
In addition to the requirements mentioned above, you also need to ensure that you have handrails installed properly. Make sure to address these factors during installation:
- The handrail must have a consistent height.
- Avoid curving or winding rails that could be difficult to reach.
- The height of the handrail should come between 34 and 38 inches above the accessible path, stair or ramp.
- A space of one and a half inches should exist between the wall and the handrail to allow room for grasping.
- Multiple handrails in the same area — such as one for adults and one for children — must be at least nine inches apart.
While you certainly want to do your part to make your business easily accessible to everyone, some people may not feel that you followed state or ADA guidelines correctly. In the event that your company faces a claim for ADA violations, you may want to contact an experienced attorney about your legal options.