ADA and Work Areas

Posted on - Thursday, May 24th, 2012

One of the confusing parts of the Standards is work areas. Areas designated for work are partially exempted in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They are not exempted in the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). But what parts are truly exempted? What parts can be adaptable? Which parts have to fully comply? This newsletter will attempt at clearing things


Work Areas vs. Employee Spaces


In the ADA, a work area is exempted from having to be fully accessible. The only requirement for work areas is an approach to the primary entrance, the ability to enter and the ability to exit. The rest of the area does not have to comply.
Notice the figure above: only maneuvering clearances on the exterior of the work area door is required to be provided. No maneuvering clearances at the door on the interior is required.
Anything inside the work area will not have to be made accessible. This requirement is for Title III entities (public accommodations and commercial facilities) and for building access only. Title I on the other hand states that a person cannot be fired or not hired based on their disability and if they are hired, they must have accessible accommodations.
So in essence, the building owner can defer the accessible work areas until they are needed.
But what is a “work area”? It is defined as a space or area where a task is performed that is part of the job description and requirement.
What about an employee restroom, locker rooms or employee break room? Those are NOT considered “work areas”. They are considered Common Use areas and must be accessible.