Application of DDA and OH&S to Housing.
It’s a moot question whether a home is a workplace and or required to be accessible . The community like to think of our house as a home and not a workplace or requiring access for people with disabilities and this is reflected in the exemption of most freestanding houses from the Premises Standards. The DDA’92 and OH&S may become an issue in housing when a house becomes a workplace or an apartment building with accommodation and communal areas.
As of May 1, 2011 the BCA will achieve parity with the DDA with the inclusion of the DDA referenced document the ‘Premises Standard’ within the BCA. The Premises standards do not extend to Class 1a buildings (single dwellings, town houses or villa units). Local authorities may require that a number or percentage of dwellings within a development be accessible, adaptable or visitable to fulfil there demographic and health objectives.
The AS 4299 Adaptable Housing standard was prepared to guide designers on creating places that would better facilitate independent living for people with impairments and age related conditions otherwise restricted by stock housing. AS 4299 Adaptable Housing-1995 considers that assistance or unpaid help maybe required on site but generally does not provide for a caregiver or consider the house as a workplace.
From AS 4299 Adaptable Housing-1995, comment on the health and safety of care givers are limited to the following;-
- PP4 ‘The concept will provide safer houses, Adaptable houses will have features, dimensions and materials designed for safety and ease of use’.
- Cl. 3.7.1 …a car-parking space…is necessary to enable a driver to alight, open the passenger side door, and assist a person with a disability into a wheelchair.
- Cl. 3.3.1 (b) Access for emergency vehicles.
The absence of OH&S being addressed directly within the standards and building codes puts the responsibility on designers to consult with their clients directly to determine the project OH&S and access brief.
Some of the many questions that architects should asked their clients are whether there has been any history of incidents such as slips trips or falls, determine whether the client/s has any particular conditions that needs to be accommodated such as arthritis or vision loss, ask if they have a therapeutic good such as a walking frame and determine who or what level of care will need to be accommodated such as nursing, cleaning, deliveries, family support.