Disabled bathrooms – what you need to know

By: Kelly-Ann Prinsloo – writer

We take a look at the design criteria for disabled bathrooms and how you, the plumber, can overcome the challenges that these bathrooms present

In many countries, including South Africa, certain people are often not considered when architects, contractors and engineers design the buildings in which we live and work. These people are those with special needs – people who are blind, deaf or disabled in some way – and they must be catered for.

Disabled bathrooms what you need to know

SANS 10400 Part S describes a person with disabilities as ‘person who has long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, might hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’.

As a plumber, you are in a unique position to provide a basic necessity for people often disregarded and forgotten by the general public. But, before you can provide bathrooms for disabled people – a much-needed skill in the South African plumbing industry – you need to understand what the requirements are for disabled bathrooms.

South African National Standard (SANS) 10400-S: 2011 deals with bathrooms for disabled people. The standard states that: ‘In any building where facilities for persons with disabilities are required in terms of Regulation S1, there shall be one or more toilets or unisex toilet facilities suitable for use by wheelchair users’.

The requirements for a disabled toilet are as follows:

  • In a wheelchair-accessible toilet,

a) The door of the compartment that contains the toilet facilities shall open outwards unless a 1,2m diameter area that is clear of all fittings, fixtures and the line of the door swing is provided. It shall be fitted with a grab rail on the inside and an easy-to-use locking device. The door leaf shall be openable from the outside by the use of a suitable device in the case of an emergency, and such leaf shall be fitted with a suitable means of indicating whether the compartment is occupied;
b) The minimum finished wall-to-wall dimensions of the compartment shall be not less than 1,8m × 1,8m;
c) A distance of not less than 450mm and not more than 500mm shall be provided between the centre line of the toilet and the nearer side wall of such compartment, and suitable grab rails shall be fixed to such side wall and the rear wall;
d) The distance from the front edge of the toilet to the rear wall of such compartment shall be not less than 690mm;
e) The top surface of the seat of the toilet shall be not less than 480mm and not more than 500mm above the floor level;

Read the full feature in Plumbing Africa February 2016,page 23.

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