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Firms 'in danger' of Equality Act non-compliance

Clients are failing to recognise their requirements under the 2010 Equality Act and instead referring to the repealed Disability Discrimination Act when building assets, according to industry experts.

Leaders from across the sector this week told CN clients needed to better understand the disabled community’s requirements when specifying projects, some of which could be at risk of non-compliance.

Atkins principal access consultant Simone West said there was a danger construction firms were carrying out non-compliant work.

“There is a danger that people misunderstand what it is they’re trying to achieve, and how, because they don’t understand what’s being asked of them,” she said.

This week, CN examines areas including design for disabled access, stories from disabled people working in the industry, and how TfL is upgrading the world’s oldest underground railway for disabled passengers.

On accessibility, minister for disabled people, health and work Penny Mordaunt said “real change can only be achieved by the industry itself”.

She added: “Buildings like the award-winning Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park show what can be achieved with the right approach, and it’s vital that projects like these set an example to the whole industry.”

Interserve senior consultant Arran Linton-Smith, who has autism, said: “I think I have skills that lend themselves very well to the industry. With my autism, I tend to work out solutions to problems much faster.”

Laing O’Rourke design engineer Michael Cattermole broke his neck in a diving accident and is now in a wheelchair. “As a disabled person, you are more determined to go out and be productive,” he said.

“Having a job is invaluable for the disabled community.”

Disabled people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It is estimated that one million more disabled people in work it would contribute an extra £45bn to the UK’s economy by 2030.

This week, Construction News is taking an in-depth look at disability in the construction industry. We will be publishing features each day for the next three days, and this week published a special print issue on disabiity in construction.

Readers' comments (1)

  • What about age discrimination as well.

    The position in the USA and Canada on both age and disabilities is very different (almost but not quite positive discrimination).

    In my experience in the construction industry disabled employees are generally the most reliable and dedicated and generally any special facilities can be easily solved by a little lateral thinking. After a short period the fact that someone is disabled becomes almost invisible as they integrate in to the work force, if anything they help promote a safety culture.

    The industry would be well to ensure that it maximises its use of some of its best most reliable and experienced indigenous and citizen workforce,

    David

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