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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.

Entrances and exits

Every Customer Counts

What you need to know

Can customers easily see and open your door?

Whether you run a small shop, public service or large business, you want as many customers as possible to be able to enter
your premises.

Make sure that your entrance is easy to identify and find, ensure it stands out from the façade. A main step-free 1000mm wide entrance will allow all customers equal access to your building. Providing a canopy will shelter customers in all weathers.

  • One of the easiest things you can do is to check your door handles, and feel how heavy the door is to open.
  • A D-shaped handle can be opened from different heights, or an easy action lever handle at the right eight can make all the difference.
  • Propping doors open in the summer can be useful but don’t forget to think about long term management.
  • Consider installing automatic doors, they are helpful for all your customers.


Door tips:

  • D-shaped handle at 700 –1000 (lower edge) to 1300mm (top) height
  • lever handle at 900mm height
  • new main entrance doors should have a clear width 1000mm, 775mm minimum in an existing building
  • new internal doors should be at least 800mm wide, 750mm in existing building
  • easy opening
  • vision panels to see other side is clear
  • push / pull indication
  • Is there enough space for wheelchair users in your lobby?
  • Make sure door mats are flush and not worn or likely to trip someone up. Do not use coir mats – they can be wheel-traps


Go step-free - one small step for some, one giant obstacle for many others

Even if you have just one step into your building, this can be a barrier to a customer accessing your goods and services.

Step-free entrances are so much more inviting. Families with buggies, wheelchair users, people with walking aids and people with luggage will all find it much easier to come in and do business with you.

Always aim for completely step-free access, if customers can get to more of your products and services, they will buy more and keep coming back.

"One small step can stop me and my friends going into an establishment. A portable ramp doesn’t cost much but can make a huge difference to my day out. If there is no access, I just go elsewhere. Some shops are great, if they have a portable ramp, there is a bell you can call for attention." - Michaela Holywood

Emergency exits

All exit routes should be as barrier-free and step-free as possible.

  • Provide clear signage – make it easy for people to find their way out
  • Keep checking for obstructions – walk your evacuation routes regularly, keep them clean and clear
  • Visual and audio alarm systems – don’t assume everyone can hear the alarm, install flashing beacons
  • Test the alarms – systems should be regularly checked and maintained
  • Staff training – staff should know correct procedures and how to provide appropriate assistance to visitors
  • Regular fire drills – practise makes perfect, test and refresh your staff knowledge
  • Develop emergency egress plans – which include provisions for any disabled staff and visitors.


Further information is available from the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service:

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