If you’re thinking about building or refreshing your existing commercial building, you need to be aware of the ADA commercial building requirements in Pennsylvania. As you may know, failing to comply with ADA requirements can come with astronomical fines: up to $75,000 for a first offense and up to $150,000 for second or subsequent offenses. There’s no sense in tempting fate, especially because it could also lead to wildly expensive litigation.Here’s a brief overview of what the ADA requires from commercial buildings. To ensure that your building is in compliance, work with a contractor who has special ADA expertise.
Requirements for existing commercial buildings
As you might imagine, not all older buildings are up to the current standards. In many cases, it’s easier to start from scratch than remodel your building for compliance. If your building was built before 1990, you’ll need to either make the required improvements or prove that it’s not “readily achievable” to do so.Determining whether an improvement is “readily achievable” is often measured on a case-by-case basis. Factors that go into the determination include cost versus financial resources, how many people are employed in the facility, effect on operations and more.If you need to bring your building up to scratch, it could involve tasks such as widening doorways and hallways, installing ramps and grab bars, removing dense, high-pile carpeting, adding push-button door openers for heavy doors, installing accessible bathroom stalls and swapping out door hardware for accessible versions. In some cases, it may be as easy as rearranging your furniture and ensuring there’s enough space for people with mobility issues to maneuver properly through your space. Alternatively, you might need to invest in desks and conference spaces that can accommodate wheelchair users.Businesses with fewer than 14 full-time employees are not required to be ADA compliant, although it’s good practice (and often good business) to do so. New businesses have 20 weeks to bring their building into compliance.
New commercial buildings
The advantage of new construction is the fact that you can plan and design the building with ADA compliance in mind. There are plenty of resources available to guide your design, but the best way to ensure compliance is to work with contractors who specialize in ADA compliance. Even when you read the guidelines, you may miss potential problems.The goal of ADA compliance isn’t to force you to sink more money into construction—it’s to help ensure that people with disabilities have an easier time navigating your building. After all, everyone needs to work, shop, visit the doctor and more. When you approach design and construction with that in mind, the requirements make a lot of sense.Even if your business is not currently required to be ADA compliant, it’s smart to plan ahead when constructing a new building—it will save you time and money when your business expands.For help with your ADA commercial building compliance and to ensure you’re meeting all the requirements in your Pennsylvania establishment, call WSL Incorporated today.