Dealing with physical barriers in the workplace

Multipage Guide

Who is this page for?

  • Employees

Which countries is it relevant to?

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The second requirement involves making changes to overcome barriers created by the physical features of an employer's workplace. 

This means your employer may need to make some changes to their building or premises.

Exactly what kind of change the employer makes will depend on the kind of barriers the premises present to you. The employer will need to consider the whole of their premises. They may have to make more than one change.

Physical features include: steps, stairways, kerbs, exterior surfaces and paving, parking areas, building entrances and exits (including emergency escape routes), internal and external doors, gates, toilet and washing facilities, public facilities (such as telephones, counters or service desks), lighting and ventilation, lifts and escalators, floor coverings, signs, furniture, and temporary or movable items (such as equipment and display racks). Physical features also include the sheer scale of premises (for example, the size of a building). This is not an exhaustive list.

  • A physical features could be something to do with the structure of the actual building itself like steps, changes of level, emergency exits or narrow doorways.
  • Or it could be something about the way the building or premises have been fitted out, things like heavy doors, inaccessible toilets or inappropriate lighting.
  • It could even be the way things are arranged inside the premises such as fixtures and fittings like shelf heights in storage areas or fixed seating in canteens.

For example:

An employer has recruited a worker who is a wheelchair user and who would have difficulty negotiating her way around the office. In consultation with the new worker, the employer rearranges the layout of furniture in the office. The employer has made reasonable adjustments.

Last updated: 18 Nov 2019

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082
Textphone: 0808 800 0084

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

Also available through the website are BSL interpretation, web chat services and a contact us form.


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closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.