Equality Act

A new Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. The Equality Act brings together over 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act including the Disabilities Act. Combined, they make Equality Act that provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.

The Equality Act simplifies, strengthens and harmonises the current legislation to provide the UK with a new discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.

The nine main pieces of legislation that have merged are:

  • the Equal Pay Act 1970
  • the Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • the Race Relations Act 1976
  • the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  • the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  • the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
  • the Equality Act 2006, Part 2
  • the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

The duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people

Equality law recognises that bringing about equality for disabled people may mean changing the way in which employment is structured, the removal of physical barriers and/or providing extra support for a disabled worker.

This is the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments aims to make sure that, as far as is reasonable, a disabled worker has the same access to everything that is involved in doing and keeping a job as a non-disabled person.

When the duty arises, you are under a positive and proactive duty to take steps to remove or reduce or prevent the obstacles a disabled worker or job applicant faces.

You only have to make adjustments where you are aware – or should reasonably be aware – that a worker has a disability.

Many of the adjustments you can make will not be particularly expensive, and you are not required to do more than what is reasonable for you to do. What is reasonable for you to do depends, among other factors, on the size and nature of your organisation.

If, however, you do nothing, and a disabled worker can show that there were barriers you should have identified and reasonable adjustments you could have made, they can bring a claim against you in the Employment Tribunal, and you may be ordered to pay them compensation as well as make the reasonable adjustments.

Areas within a business that need to be taken into account around when designing, upgrading or maintaining a system:

  • Fire Alarm Systems – the system needs to be designed to make allowances for disabled employees and visitors and install methods of alerting deaf people in the event of a fire. Some methods include visual alarm systems and other tactile devices.
  • Disabled Refuge Area – regulations state that all one storey, non-domestic buildings now require to provide a ‘safe refuge area’ with a two-way communication system installed.
  • Induction Loop Systems – are installed in all customer service areas where a hard of hearing person would be present i.e. all public buildings, banks, post offices, shops etc.
  • Access Control – automated doors, braille door entry systems and dual height access controls systems to name a few which will assist with disabled access and meet DDA requirements.
  • Voice Alarm Systems – these systems need to be adapted to suit the requirements DDA. Voice Evacuation systems enable audible communication of instruction in the event of an emergency, providing critical information through high quality sounders.

Disabled Refuse System

The aim of an effective disabled refuge system is to provide people who cannot easily use fire escapes and evacuation lifts to call for assistance. As well as installing disabled refuge systems for fire safety purposes, commercial organisations are choosing to provide call assistance facilities for the disabled in remote locations, such as WC facilities.

In the event of an emergency, the system will facilitate effective two-way communication between building management and people located in these areas to, firstly, assist rescue teams in determining where assistance is required and, secondly, to reassure people help is on the way. The system can also be interfaced with the fire alarm so that it only becomes operational when the fire alarm is activated, thus eliminating nuisance use.

Current Building Regulations insist all new non-domestic buildings with more than one storey provide ‘refuge’ areas – relatively safe places where people who cannot easily use fire escapes and evacuation lifts can call for assistance and wait until help arrives. Simple, effective two-way communication in these areas is essential, firstly to assist rescue teams in determining where assistance is required and secondly to reassure people help is on the way.

Emergency Voice Communication System have to be specifically designed to meet the rising demand for fully compliant BS 5839 Part 9 disabled refuge systems.

Disable Persons Toilet Alarm

We Supply and Install Disabled Persons Toilet Alarm kits that includes everything required for a BS8300 clause compliant emergency assistance alarm.

Attractively designed, easy to install and simple to use, it allows a distressed person to raise an alarm in the event of an emergency. To operate, the user simply pulls the cord of a ceiling pull unit to activate a light and sounder outside the WC.

Tried, trusted and respected by users and installers alike, this system can help building managers and service providers comply with the requirements of BS8300, the Disability Discrimination Act, the Care Standards Act and the English Tourism Council's National Accessibility Scheme.

This is also ideal for use as a single zone emergency assistance alarm in changing rooms, solariums, interview rooms and reception areas.

Conventional Call Systems

Tried, trusted and respected by users and installers alike, A Conventional Call System is ideal for use in all types of private, commercial, residential and public sector buildings. Incorporating a wide range of indicator panels and an extensive array of system components (including ceiling pulls, wall-mounting call points, monitoring points, water resistant alert points, stainless steel call points, over-door lights, remote sounders, relays and call latch modules), it is without doubt one of the most versatile and reliable conventional call systems on the market.

In its simplest form, a Conventional Call System:

  • Allows the general public, a member of staff or a patient to call for assistance;
  • Confirms that the call has got through;
  • Allows extra or more urgent assistance to be summoned using an optional ‘emergency’ call facility.
  • However, the unrivalled flexibility and versatility of a Conventional Call System means it can also be used to:
    • Inform staff that someone is being attacked via an optional infrared ‘staff attack’ facility.
    • Monitor storage cupboards, cash offices and stock rooms for unauthorised access.
    • Monitor doorbells, telephones and machinery for activation or failure.
    • Send notification of calls to hand-held paging equipment.
    • Can be used to help building managers and service providers comply with BS8300, the Equality /Disability Discrimination Act and the Care Standards Act.

Addressable Call Systems

An Addressable Call System is a powerful yet easy to use call system that helps ensure vital communication throughout a building. In environments where efficiency is paramount, an Addressable Call System delivers, helping save staff time, minimising disturbance and improving the quality of patient, customer and/or employee care.

Recently updated to include a host of new features, the way the system operates can be tailored to suit a care facility's specific requirements. For example, different day, night and call divert arrangements can be easily accommodated to meet the exact operational needs and precise layout of any building.

This flexibility, coupled with many other advanced features such as multiple call levels, free built-in data logging, simple system reprogramming and full monitoring of all network devices, makes an Addressable Call System a good choice for nursing homes, hospitals, health centres and many other private and public sector establishments.

This information is given as a general guide only. It is not intended to contain definitive legal advice. Professional legal advice should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.