Is a unisex ambulant facility enough?

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This video describes the application of Volume One F2.4(c), answering a common technical question.


Is a unisex ambulant facility enough? This is a question about F2.4(c), which is the part in Volume One that requires the provision of facilities for people with an ambulant disability. Not to be confused with a wheelchair accessible facility, this is a facility for people who don't use a wheelchair, yet have a disability, like an amputation, that means it helps to have a sanitary facility provided with handrails.

And the question has come up: does the BCA ask for separate ambulant facilities? One for males and one for females? Or is a single, unisex facility enough? To find the answer to this question we need to go the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions and here is F2.4 in part.

As you can see by the title of the provision, F2.4 is the provision that stipulates the minimum sanitary facilities for people with a disability. In F2.4 you've got (a) here, which requires the unisex wheelchair accessible facility, more about that in Table F2.4(a), though that's a unisex facility as stipulated there in (a), which males and females can use. You've also got (b), the unisex accessible shower. More about that in Table F2.4(b), but in residential buildings, and where you need to have showers for able-bodied people, like say at a sporting venue, then the accessible sanitary compartment will also have a shower. And then we've also got (c), the facility for a person with an ambulant disability.

Notice how this one is different. (a) and (b) both asked for a unisex facility, one facility for use by either gender. Notice that (c) doesn't ask for a unisex facility. (c) is saying, where you've got a bank of toilets, and at that bank there's an accessible unisex facility besides any other toilet, then that's the trigger for the provision of an ambulant facility. And it clarifies that facilities need to be available to both males and females.

What it's doing is giving the decision about whether it can be unisex or not to another provision. And that provision is F2.3. F2.3 provides overall requirements for facilities in Class 3 to 9 buildings. It says you need to have separate facilities for males and females, except in some circumstances. Those circumstances include: F2.4(a) for unisex accessible facilities, which we just covered. There's also F2.4(b) for when you put a shower in that facility, we've also just covered that.

Notice that F2.4(c) is not listed. It remains therefore there has to be separate facilities for males and females. So a single, unisex ambulant facility isn't enough. But like every good rule, this one has an exception. In fact it has three, and they're on the slide right now. Can you see them? Yes, it's (b), (c) and (f). These are the circumstances when you don't have to provide separate facilities for males and females. You still have to provide facilities for both genders, but they don't have to be exclusively labelled.

It's unlikely that (b) would apply, because a building with 10 employees will normally get away with a single accessible facility, without the additional facility which would trigger the ambulant facility. You've got also got (c) for where all but two of the employees are one sex. And you also have the ward area of a hospital in (f).

These are the circumstances where you don't have to provide separate facilities, but you have to still serve both males and females. That's why in F2.4(c) it talks about providing for males and females, rather than saying that you have to have separate facilities for males and females because the job of deciding that belongs to F2.3, as you can see here.

Typically, there will be an ambulant compartment in the men's facilities, and another compartment in the women's facilities. As clarified by this part of the Guide to Volume One, under commentary for F2.3.

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