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Does your entrance stand up to legal scrutiny?

Your facility’s entrance matting system plays a critical part in creating an inviting and safe environment for people entering or exiting the building. The majority of the dirt that enters a building is brought in from the soles of shoes and tyres of wheeled traffic. This can make your interiors look dirty and unattractive and cause damage to interior flooring. It also creates unnecessary health and safety hazards as moisture that doesn’t get absorbed by your entrance mat can cause a slip hazard. For this reason, it is paramount to understand all regulations in the Entrance Matting industry.

Planning a construction project, however large or small, involves making a huge number of decisions. When designing a building there are many aspects to consider, from the client’s needs and wishes, to the impact it will have on the surrounding environment, and the goals of the practice itself to break barriers and innovate.

Standardisation of design however is what keeps things in order, and prevents problems with users of the proposed building, and neighbours alike. This standardisation comes in the form of the government’s Building Regulations, and is crucial not only to ensure your pr

What building regulations for public areas should be considered?

It’s relatively straightforward to ensure your building’s entrance meets regulations, especially when designing from scratch. The key aspect to consider in relation to entrance matting is floor level and ensuring a flush surface when transitioning from one zone to the next. Building regulations are put in place to assist the mobility impaired, especially those in wheelchairs. Effective civil rights legislation is sought in order to secure these opportunities and rights and access to public areas. Some of the more visible changes brought about in recent decades include the installation of automatic doors, wide doors, and corridors matting.

A building’s entrance must meet the criteria of Buildings Regulations Approved Document M (Access to and Use of Buildings) to which some updates for England and Wales were made in 2015, and guidelines set out in BS8300:2001 for disabled access in line with The Equality Act 2010, the latter of which there are many other factors (beyond entrance design) that need to be met for compliance.

In the Secretary of State’s view the requirements of part M will be met by making reasonable provision to ensure that buildings are accessible and usable. People regardless of disability, age or gender, should be able to gain access to buildings and to gain access within buildings and their facilities, both as a visitor and as people who live or work in them.” Extract from Building Regulations Approved Document part M.

DDA (Disability Discrimination Act)

The materials doors are made of, the way they open and close, door opening clearance, the weight and force of doors, their visibility, the hardware and handles they feature, all need to be considered in an entrance design. Some glass doors can create problems for the visually impaired. Door entry systems should be accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing, and have visual contrast for the visually impaired. Disabled access should not be impeded in any way.

This includes the type of entrance matting system that is installed. Surfaces need to be level to allow for wheel chair access, so coir matting (which has been the traditional entrance mat material) is not deemed suitable for compliance. Where there are mat wells, the surface of the mat needs to be level with the surface of the adjacent floor finish.

From a practical point of view, a well-designed entrance area should not be exposed to too many draughts, which can occur when doors are constantly opening. This needs to be considered in the design. Installation of doors also has to be in accordance with Approved Document K.

People who have difficulty walking or maintaining balance or who use crutches, canes, or walkers, and those with restricted gaits are particularly sensitive to slipping and tripping hazards. For such people, a stable and regular surface is necessary for safe walking, particularly on stairs. Wheelchairs can be propelled most easily on surfaces that are hard, stable, and regular. Soft, loose surfaces such as shag carpet, loose sand or gravel, wet clay, and irregular surfaces, such as cobblestones, can significantly impede wheelchair movement.

Surfaces need to be level to allow for wheelchair access, so coir matting is not deemed suitable for compliance. Where there are matwells, the surface of the mat needs to be level with the surface of the adjacent floor finish.

How to safeguard entrance matting to comply with legal requirements?

Entrance matting should be according to legal requirements. Floor surface material within the entrance should not impede the movement of wheelchairs, and changes in floor materials should not create a potential trip hazard.

The entrance matting system should scrape, wipe, and retain soil, contacting both the feet of people entering the building and, in the case of wheeled traffic, the circumference of the wheels. The wheels of a wheelchair have a diameter of 56-66 cm, which equates to a circumference of 172-207 cm, for the wheels to turn twice, to remove as much dirt and moisture as possible, the minimum length of the system would be about 4m. This means that being compliant with entrance matting regulations is crucial to ensure the safety of all wheelchair users.

It is a legal requirement to keep entrances safe and accessible in public buildings. Entrance mats play a role in reducing slips and falls due to wet floors, by properly drying wet shoes and in keeping indoor and outdoor entrances accessible for people with mobility impairments, such as walking aids and wheelchairs.

Not only should you take wheelchairs into consideration, but also heel proofing your entrance matting. This may not be a legal requirement, but a matter of due diligence. Gaps of 4-5mm maximum should be specified in areas where stiletto heels may be used, as this may cause the person wearing heels to fall and sustain an injury.

How to avoid hazards of entrance matting installation?

When installing entrance matting in public spaces the customer should specify exactly what the application of this product should be to ensure that the correct product is specified for the site. In public areas it is crucial to know what amount of traffic your entrance mat will receive; would it be an indoor or exterior mat and what type of traffic would move over the mat?

Firstly, the correct mat needs to be specified for your application to ensure the mat does not warp or crease after installation. The installation team needs to know what they are doing and ensure that the mat is installed correctly.

Where matwells are present the surface of the mat should also be level with the adjacent floor finish. If the mat is installed in a mat well, the height of the mat is extremely important as the mat well would require adjustment, if the mat were too thick for the depth of the mat well. It can easily cause a tripping hazard if a mat doesn’t perfectly fit. The same goes for a too-thin mat. If the mat is too thin for the depth of the matwell, the height difference can cause a tripping hazard to anyone entering your facility.

Safety in any building is paramount. Entrance matting plays a safety-critical function in helping to reduce the risk when walking on smooth floors. The longer the matted area, the more moisture it will trap.

How to safeguard entrance ramps and stairs for mobility-impaired?

To ensure the safety of the mobility impaired, anti-slip products should be installed on stairs to safeguard that the surface is not slippery and a danger to anyone entering the facility. To accommodate wheelchairs the entrance should have a ramp that also has anti-slip sheets, to avoid slipping hazards and provide more grip for the wheels.

Some anti-slip products have undergone tests to assess the risk of people slipping on the mat’s surface. The most common, legally recognised method involves the Pendulum Test, which measures the dynamic coefficient of friction. It provides a Pendulum Test Value (PTV) with the guidelines being:

  • 0 – 24 – High Risk
  • 25 – 35 – Moderate risk
  • >36 – Low Risk

To further ensure that your entrance matting installation, or anti-slip sheeting, is done correctly, one must consult an adhesive specialist. Each surface and each application would require a unique adhesive that will avoid the grip from lifting and causing a tripping hazard.

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