ADA Compliance in Facilities Management: Common Questions
Facilities Managers often have questions related to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance. Compliance to the ADA is rooted in the consideration and accommodation for people with disabilities. When buildings are poorly designed or outdated, they can be difficult or even impossible for people with disabilities to use. In those cases, the human right for someone with a disability to have equal access to a building is being restricted or denied. For this reason, if the ADA is ignored or overlooked, it can cause undue hardship on employees or the public, and building managers and owners can be subject to lawsuits and fines.
Obviously then, many property owners, building managers, contractors and service providers should be aware of their need to be ADA compliant. While we would hope that people would be eager to comply with the ADA out of concern for their fellow man, the financial risks are also very compelling. For example, a first violation of the ADA can result in a fine of up to $75,000, and subsequent violations can lead to fines of up to $150,000.
Since compliance to the ADA varies considerably from building to building, it’s important to enlist professional help when auditing your building for compliance issues. Total Facility Management companies like Bona Fide Conglomerate employ people with disabilities and have expert knowledge on best practices and compliance for your building.
That said, it’s still important as a building manager to be aware of common ADA concerns.
Some of the most commonly searched ADA compliance questions by facility managers include:
What are some common ADA violations to watch out for?
Design considerations are essential for facility managers. One common ADA non-compliance violation is a lack of equal access at front desk or checkout stations for individuals with disabilities. Wheelchair accessible counter heights, or entrances and exits with narrow access can often be found in poor design across retail stores and kiosk locations.
Many companies standardize design across their locations. So if there is an issue at one location, it probably exists at all of the other sites. Another example of this violation could be seen in writing stands at banks or fitting rooms in retail stores.
Other common ADA violations include little to no parking or drop-off access, incorrect ramp heights or slopes, poor signage, door widths and hardware to open those doors. ADA violations can even include poor restroom design, such as the toilet handle being on the incorrect side, or the height of sinks, towel dispensers, and garbage cans being unsuitable.
Clearly, ADA requirements can get detailed, but not necessarily overwhelming if you have experts helping you refine your facility.
What are the ADA requirements for altering facilities?
Understanding the ADA requirements for alterations to existing facilities is crucial, but it can be complicated. Here are some key takeaways from the ADA documentation that you may find helpful:
- “When alterations are made to a primary function area, such as the lobby of a building or the dining area of a restaurant, an accessible path of travel to the altered area must also be provided. Accessible restrooms, phones, drinking fountains serving that area must also be made accessible.”
- “Elevators are generally not required in facilities under 3 stories or with less than 3,000 square feet per floor, except in certain building types like malls, healthcare facilities, and transit stations.”
- “The additional accessibility alterations are only required to the extent that the costs do not exceed 20% of the original alteration costs.”
How can I ensure my building is ADA compliant?
Contractors, facility managers and building owners can obviously reference the ADA while planning or making alterations or improvements to their facilities. But smart managers should be proactive about ensuring and maintaining compliance to avoid being blindsided by a violation complaint and fine.
It is well documented that people with working knowledge of the ADA will target non-compliant businesses, and even public offices, to file ADA lawsuits.
Total Facility Management with ADA Expertise
If you need a total facility management solution, it’s an added benefit to employ a provider with expert knowledge of the ADA. Bona Fide Conglomerate provides services in AbilityOne, a federal program dedicated to providing employment opportunities to people working with disabilities. This experience gives Bona Fide unparalleled expertise in identifying and correcting potential ADA violations that you might not have considered.
If you need advice on your ADA compliance concerns, please give us a call.