Response to is the DDA being ignored post.

Always pleased to hear from Graham Hulland from Door Controls who I have known for many years.  Graham has many years experience and knowledge in the field of closers and architectural ironmongery.  He recently commented on a recent post on Is the DDA Being Ignored and I think his response deserves a posting of its own.

Graham Hulland says:

On existing buildings it is correct that under BS8300 ‘reasonable provisions’ should be made in respect of access etc. However new buildings are covered by Approved Document M which is titled as ‘Access to and use of Buildings’. The opening statement within the document reads as follows:- In the Secretary of State’s view the requirements of Part M will be met by making reasonable provision to ensure that buildings are accessible and usable. People, regardless of disability, age or gender, should be able to: a. gain access to buildings and to gain access within buildings and use their facilities, both as visitors and as people who live or work in them; The Approved Document therfore does not just cover people with disabilities but any one using the building as a visitor, customer or employee. It is therefore important that any door used within a Building complies with the opening forces, even an Emergency Exit if used by staff to access the building etc. I have witnessed buildings both new and existing where problems have arisen due to non-compliant opening forces. On a new build all of the door closers (300+) had to be removed and replaced as they were the result of opening forces above and beyond the recommended 30N. I have also seen issues within existing buildings where opening forces were too high resulting in able bodied staff complaining and being off work due to RSIs.It is true that ‘reasonable adjustments’ are required under BS8300 for existing buildings, however after the introduction of BS8300 in 2003 it could easily be argued by someone making a complaint that 8 years is ‘reasonable’ to ensure compliance and ease of access.


  1. Graeme says

    Were most of the problems you mentioned on Public Sector work, schools, hospitals, where they had to change the closers.

    • Graham Hulland says

      Graeme, have had a variety including Student Accomodation, Old People’s Home, a Day Centre, Hospital and Shopping Centre.

  2. Graeme says

    But mostly by the look of it Public Sector works. Which doesn’t surprise me.
    They don’t seem to understand the word ‘reasonable’, and just apply the DDA to everything.

  3. Graham Hulland says

    Graeme, the DDA has gone, this was replaced by the Equalities Act in October 2010, this encompasses what was the DDA. Again I should stress that new buildings are subject to Building Regulations and Approved Document M gives the guidance on Access to and Use of Buildings for all new build. On any new build compliance is required against Building Regulations, failure to do so will result in Building Control failing to sign the Building off. Maybe your experience of Public Sector Buildings being ‘more compliant’ is because they ensure the Building Regulations are applied knowing if they get sued by an employee/visitor/user then it is tax payers money that will have to fund Court Costs and Compensation, not a good situation for any Public Body to be in. I should also point out that any new School is subject to additional guidance set out by the Department for Children,Schools and Families (Now Dept for Education) which also mirrors door opening forces detailed in ADM and BS8300. This highlights the requirement of Access for all and not just the disabled.
    Also worthy of mentioning is that Architects will set out to ensure compliance with ADM/BS8300 when designing a building, however issues arise when specifications are changed where those involved are concerned with price and price alone.

    • Nick says

      Another one I’m sure we’ve all dealt with is the frail finding a double glazed ali door of lets say 2300 height door difficult to open especially in an older block of flats whereby the original doors again have simply been replaced with new commercial doors with an access control system.
      Everyone seems to operate them fine apart from one or two older residents. I’m never sure what the exact deal is to a block of flats in this situation. Same has applied for a school where teacher moan younger kids struggling with the doors at times.

      What should be done in those situations?

  4. Nick says

    (A Graeme and a Graham to address here….;)
    I think in our business we have all had to deal with changing specification when Dorma or a Systems company does work in (correctly) spec’ing a product for a building only for things to change when the order is secured and everyone starts looking for cost savings.
    Another issue which has arisen is people changing hardware after the installation/building handover/change of use. Say a closer fails and needs replacing and ACME Door Maintenance is called in to repair and simply replaces it with anything to get the door fixed with no further consideration to what may have been specified in the first place?

  5. Nick says

    Graham, came across an issue in a recent school installation I did recently. School needed new ali doors to replace old timber ones. Fitted commercial doors with Panic bars. School moaned that the kids were abusing the doors, the opening out action of the doors was halting traffic from outside wanting to come in so they instructed me to change the doors (new stiles) and replace with double action doors fitted with a thumbturn!

    This happens often when the apparent “needs” of the school seem to be more important than the point of the hardware. Is this simply irresponsible or does the fact that a caretaker goes round every morning unlocking all exit doors in the building make a difference? I’d have thought fire exit doors irrespective of whether their used as entrance doors should still have the panic hardware on them??

  6. Graham Hulland says

    In response to the questions posed I would comment as follows:-
    1. Blocks of Flats. Doors in blocks of flats also have to comply. Communual doors are obviously used by all and thus the issue pointed out of eldery residents struggling with the doors would be removed if doors complied with ADM/BS8300. Individual flat doors should also comply as thay too could be used by the elderly, the young or with someone who has a disability. Flats often change hands and thus the provision should be made to ensure accessibility for any user.
    2. Schools. As pointed out in my response Schools are subject to the regulations, younger children will have issues with non-compliant doorsets.
    3. Changing Hardware. If hardware is changed from the specification then the Contractor is taking on the reponsibility for compliance, non-compliance should be picked up by Building Control. On replacement generally Maintenance Companies will replace like for like unless otherwise instructed, better ones will advise in respect of compliance to BS8300 and Fire Regulations. It therefore depends on what has been requested and advice given in respect of responsibility.
    4. Panic Hardware. The main factor for any exit door is that it opens outwards. On main entrances, for ease of use etc. these are generally double action and do not require exit devices as they are generally unlocked whilst the building is in use. If they are not the main entrance doors then there are a few solutions available for the instance you mention;-
    a) Keep the doors single action, use panic devices with dogging to retain latches/bolts (this can be done electrically with a timer where latches/bolts are withdrawn electronically at break times etc) and the use of hold open or delayed action door closers.
    b) In addition to the above a lobby can be created where the inner doors are double action and the final exit doors are held open at relevant times as above in a.
    Any solution however is subject of a Risk Assessment under the RR(FS)O and thus solutions may vary.

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