Industry News | January 20, 2014

Enhance Your Restaurant Through Accessibility, Safety

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Quick-serve owners and operators continually have customer experience top of mind, from the initial planning of a unit to everyday execution. When it comes to improving the experience through a restaurant’s design, being aware of safety and the obligations of accessibility compliance can go a long way in making an environment comfortable for all patrons.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Standards and American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) requirements can help owners and operators avoid complaints and possible penalties.

For convenience and safety, guidelines specify that a 2 percent maximum slope in any direction is allowed in doorway areas. All doors must provide at least a 32-inch clear opening with a closing speed of no more than five seconds. Thresholds may be no more than a half-inch high.

A 36-inch wide route of travel should be available to all areas, with nothing projecting more than 4 inches between 27–80 inches above the floor.

Accessible routes to tables should also provide 36 inches of clear width, even with people seated along the way. The reach distance to drinks and condiments must be convenient. These items are often located over a 24-inch depth counter that requires items to be located no higher than 46 inches.

Accessible tables should comprise no less than 5 percent of the total number of tables, spread out among table types and locations. Avoid wide, center-column table supports and fixed seating. A table with supports located at the corners or ends at least 24–28 inches high with no less than 27 inches of vertical knee clearance and 30-inch width is considered minimum. A 36-inch width is preferred.

It is a good management practice to place high chairs so that they do not block accessible seating locations. Operators should select chairs that meet the current ASTM 404-10 standard. Chairs with raised design on top prevent them from being used unsafely upside down for holding an infant seat carrier. Also, choose one that has a low center of gravity that resists tilting and tipping and that includes both a crotch strap and a three-part waist restraint to keep the child from crawling out of the chair. Cleanability is essential in foodservice establishments, and use of plastic high chairs with smooth contours free of crevices is recommended.

Further, ADA compliance in foodservice restrooms is as important as cleanliness. Operators risk fines and closures for facilities that do not adhere to specified mounting heights, reach ranges, and operable parts locations located not more than 48 inches above the finish floor for accessories such as dispensers, receptacles, and baby changing stations. Requirements also pertain to restroom layouts for the lavatory area and toilet compartments.

As a courtesy to architects, planners, and operators of all types of retail establishments (including foodservice), Bobrick Washroom Equipment Inc. routinely updates its “Planning Guide for Accessible Restrooms.” The latest document is now available free of charge on the company’s website.

Below are 10 important considerations for planning an accessible foodservice restroom. 

1.             Entrances and exits should be laid out to minimize congestion and for universal access.

2.             Passageways and access aisles should be at least 42–48 inches wide.

3.             Limit protrusions between 27–80 inches in all circulation routes, passageways, and access aisles to no more than 4 inches.

4.             Remember wheelchair turning spaces wherever required. The increased use of large wheelchairs and scooters means that larger maneuvering spaces should be considered.

5.             Accessories should be fully recessed into the walls wherever possible.

6.             Make sure accessories and vendors, faucets, and flush valves meet or exceeds 2010 ADA and 2009 ICC/ANSI standards, meaning they are reachable and usable with limited hand dexterity and don’t require more than 5 pounds of force.

7.             At each accessory, provide a centered minimum clear floor space of 30 by 48 inches.

8.             Ensure lavatories, urinals, and toilet compartments meet or exceed 2010 ADA and 2009 ICC/ANSI standards.

9.             If there are six or more toilet compartments or urinals, there should be at least one ambulatory accessible toilet compartment in addition to the standard accessible compartment.

10.         Locate baby-changing stations with care, avoiding locations in accessible compartments, and putting them in places that won't block others while in use.

The needs of people who use wheelchairs are fundamental factors for determining floor space, turning diameters, mounting heights, and reach ranges. Accommodating the characteristics, needs, and equipment required by a wide range of users takes into consideration a variety of factors, including stability and balance issues, varying height and weight, senior citizens, strollers and baby changing stations, and mobility equipment.

By Richard Duncan, executive director of the Mace Universal Design Institute, and Alan Gettelman, vice president of external affairs at Bobrick Washroom Equipment Inc.

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by QSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.