Why attention to detail avoids hefty DDA fines

Andy Stolworthy, product manager at Adams Rite, explains why the focus on components rather than application in the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) could lead to costly penalties for some door suppliers.

The Disability Discrimination Act was first introduced in 1995 and promotes civil rights for disabled people and protects them from discrimination.  That includes accessing and using the services in shops and public buildings and failure to comply with Approved Document M can incur hefty fines for those involved.

Since an amendment to the act came into force in 2004, the focus of the DDA regulations has been on ensuring the application rather than the component is compliant.  Where doors are concerned, this means components should not – and cannot - be measured under these rules until they are installed and the door is fitted. 

If you take a door closer for example, the closer’s opening force is measured by Newton Metres (torque) using the calculation:

Torque (Nm) = Force (N) x Distance from pivot (m)

To establish the force at the leading edge of the door, you need to establish the torque of the closer and use this calculation

Force (N) = Torque (Nm)/Distance from the pivot (m)

The DDA requirement is for the force to open a door to be no greater than 30N for the first 30° of opening and 22.5N up to 60°.  In order to measure the opening force at the leading edge, the width of the door must also be known.  As door widths vary, the resultant force will vary too.  Because the correct door closer must be specified to maintain DDA compliance, it is imperative that the correct tests are conducted.

The application of the door closer needs to be tested against the DDA regulations and this must be done when the door is fitted in situ rather than in the factory as weather stripping, latch resistance and external and internal atmospheric conditions will all have an impact on the opening force.

Ultimately it is the door supplier that is responsible for ensuring the door complies with DDA regulations - so close attention should be paid to any claims made by manufacturers to avoid potentially costly mistakes.