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Dan Woosley

Accessible Route to Dumpster and Enclosure

Professional Interpretation or Opinion

Dan Woosley | May 15, 2015 at 2:05PM (edited)


  • New Construction
  • Alterations & Path of travel

Type of entity:

  • ADA Covered Facilities
  • Not Facility-related

Project date: April 10, 2015

Questions, Facts, and Assumptions:

The purpose of this interpretation is to address the question of whether or not an accessible route is required by the ADA Standards from a retail store to an on-site dumpster and enclosure for new construction or for alterations.  For this interpretation, the basis is solely on the application of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (aka '2010 ADA').

The project considered is for a prototype that could be built in any state.  The dumpster is typically on the property site, serves the retail store, is open-air, usually has a fence with gate or door(s), and is often across an internal driveway (although some configurations may place it adjacent to the back of the building).  It is also assumed that this is not a public dumpster, but is for the sole use of the retail store by its employees.

For general understanding, site-specific information such as grading, slopes and cross-slopes are not included in a prototype design and thus, the design concept for all exterior elements that impact accessibility will require specific design application once the topography and dimensional specifics are known about a selected site.

Detailed Analysis:

Foundational to our opinion is our understanding that the trash dumpster and its enclosure are considered an employee work area as defined by the 2010 ADA §106.5.

106.5 Defined Terms.

Employee Work Area.  All or any portion of a space used only by employees and used only for work. Corridors, toilet rooms, kitchenettes and break rooms are not employee work areas. (underline added)

Because the dumpster is only used by employees when doing their work, there are some exceptions that limit the responsibility of providing accessible elements inside a work area.  These are covered in the General Exceptions of §203.9.

203 General Exceptions

203.9 Employee Work Areas. Spaces and elements within employee work areas shall only be required to comply with 206.2.8 [common use circulation paths within work area], 207.1 [accessible means of egress], and 215.3 [wiring for visible alarms] and shall be designed and constructed so that individuals with disabilities can approach, enter, and exit the employee work area.   (underline and [brackets] added)

Since the three referenced sections relating to ‘circulation paths within’, ‘accessible means of egress’, and ‘visible alarms’ do not relate to the dumpster and enclosure fencing, what remains is only the requirement to provide for an individual with a disability to “approach, enter, and exit” the employee work area.  This would trigger:

  • a level area outside the gate to accommodate the door maneuvering clearance,
  • operable door/gate hardware,
  • clear width at doorway, and
  • compliant closer speed and force (if applicable).

It does not require turn-around space inside the enclosure, door maneuvering clearances from the inside, compliant operable parts to operate the dumpster door or accessible reach ranges, although all those would certainly be good design practice.  The requirements for accessibility for an employee using a wheelchair would be to open the door, to enter roughly half-way, and to back out (see ADAAG Manual, section 4.1.1(3), p. 9, published by the Access Board in July 1998, as seen in the figure excerpt below).

Accessible aspects at the Employee Work Area itself (within the enclosure) would become an issue of providing reasonable accommodations on an “as needed” basis per Title 1 of the ADA, should an employee with a disability be assigned that task or an employee so assigned gain a disability.

So the requirements at the enclosure are to provide accessibility to approach, enter and exit the gate.  However, the obligation must also provide an accessible route to the Employee Work Area. 

Section 206.2.2 of the ADA Standards requires that at least one accessible route connect the dumpster enclosure to the building.

206.2.2 Within a Site.  At least one accessible route shall connect accessible buildings, accessible facilities, accessible elements, and accessible spaces that are on the same site. (underline added)

The dumpster and enclosure is a “facility” as defined in the ADA and therefore a connecting route for pedestrian travel must be provided.  Normally, that route would take the same path that ambulatory employees might take, but if the site constraints called for it, it might be a different path altogether, even from a different door.

Admittedly, beyond the design of the enclosure itself, the most challenging aspect would likely be providing compliant slopes, cross slopes, curb ramps when necessary, and connection to an accessible entry/exit that the employees would have access to.  There is no requirement for painted crosswalk going across the pavement, but it is advisable to indicate the accessible route on the design drawings (both the prototype drawings and especially the construction documents) to clearly communicate to the Contractor the higher level of responsibility expected along that route.

For Alteration projects in an existing facility, the path of travel requirements are only triggered when the altered area includes a primary function.  Because the dumpster and enclosure are not a primary function of a retail facility, either for customers or for employees, even an alteration to the enclosure itself would not trigger modifications to the path of travel to the dumpster.

But with that said, if there is an alteration to an element along the route to the dumpster, that element would need to be made accessible per the new construction requirements to the maximum extent feasible.

For existing facilities with an on-site dumpster, there are no requirements for readily achievable barrier removal because the dumpster is not part of the place of public accommodation which would subject it to barrier removal.


Regarding the dumpster enclosure and whether an accessible route is required to the entrance door or gate, it is our opinion that the dumpster enclosure is an employee work area and, therefore, that an accessible pedestrian route from the store to the dumpster (or to the enclosure opening if there is one) is indeed required in new construction.

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Kaylan M. Dunlap, CASp, ADAC, LPTA

Dumpster Enclosure

General Comment or Question

Kaylan M. Dunlap, CASp, ADAC, LPTA | January 15, 2016 at 10:01AM (edited)

Just as an FYI, Texas has a Technical Memorandum that briefly addresses dumpster enclosures. It is TM 2013-21.

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