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Feb 12 2015

Hands-Free Door Pulls

Category: Accessibility,Push/PullLori @ 12:37 am Comments (17)

StepNpull Someone asked me last week whether a door pull operated by the user’s foot would meet the accessibility requirements.  The answer seems obvious, right?  How can a pull operated by someone’s foot be used for a door on an accessible route?  Those doors have to be operable by everyone, including someone using a wheelchair; hardware must be mounted between 34 inches and 48 inches above the floor, be operable with no tight grasping, tight pinching, or twisting of the wrist, and no special knowledge or effort (read on!).

While a foot-operated pull doesn’t require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting, it would not meet the intent of the accessibility standards if it was the only means of pulling the door open.  BUT…if there was another pull on the door which met the accessibility requirements, I don’t see a code problem with installing a foot-operated pull in addition.  These pulls are becoming more common for restroom doors, but I have never seen them installed as the only pull on the door.  In the application from last week, the foot-operated pull was intended for use by an employee who does not have the use of his arms, but has full use of his legs.  Seems like a perfect application!

You might be thinking, “But what about the requirement for a 10-inch-high area at the bottom of the door where no protrusions are allowed?”  That 10-inch flush area is only required on the push side of manual doors.  The pull is mounted on the pull side.  It wouldn’t affect the clear opening width, it shouldn’t be an encroachment issue, and by nature it wouldn’t be used on a fire door, so I can’t think of any code-related problems with using it.  And it saves trees because I don’t have to use a paper towel to avoid touching the door pull.

What do you think?


Photo and Graphic: StepNpull

P.S.  Here’s another foot-operated pull photo that was sent to me back in 2009.

17 Responses to “Hands-Free Door Pulls”

  1. Lee Francisco says:

    Wonder how much force that ends up exerting on the top hinge?

  2. Ed Marchakitus says:

    Is there a liability potential should a child – or anyone for that matter – fall on it? I see this one has a lip? Seems petty, but in today’s society…
    The link to the other pull in which you place your foot in – the one you had wished you had thought of – seems more Kosher. Thanks for the post – I had never seen this before (apparently there is enough of a market for it!).

  3. Kent Krauser, AHC,FDAI says:

    One problem I can see is children (or similar mentality) standing on it and “riding the door”. Probably should specify it with a continuous hinge, too. But I do like the fact that you don’t have to touch the door or use paper towels to do so.

    Hmmm, but us Florida folks wear flip-flops…probably need to get “toe guards” to wear with them! LOL! Cheers!

    • Lori says:

      Yes, I think a continuous hinge would be a good solution.

      I wonder if I’ll be able to open it while wearing my bunny slippers. 🙂

  4. Bobby says:

    Although this isn’t the right forum for this concern, the liability that concerns me most is the torque put on a person’s knee when trying to open a door in that manner. Planting one foot and then pulling the door open with the other is quite an unnatural motion. Otherwise, it’s a very neat concept from a hygienic standpoint!

  5. John Robb says:

    I cannot agree with the concept here. The main concern is balance and although many may think that they are good on one leg only try having your other on a dynamic object like a moving door, I can foresee many unnecessary falls to the ground. In addition I expect many persons attempting to use one of their feet will possible see their front teeth or heads connecting with the edge of the door.
    then there is the additional projection hovering above floor level, this could jamb toes between the device and the floor unless you are looking down when you use it…mind your head again.
    And also a nice contraption to snag and catch small feet and toes especially in any rest room where you will possibly be barefoot…….Sorry Lori I don’t buy this design.

  6. Ron Betschman IFDI says:

    Required elements for usage:
    1.)Steel toe safety shoes 2.)Hard hat with face guard to protect head and face when falling over from door opening unexpectedly while attempting to exit 3.)Signage on egress side of door requiring approaching person to yell out a warning. 🙂

  7. Ron Ely says:

    Hello my name is Ron Ely the co-inventor of the Stepnpull. I would like to thank Lori for this discussion – I would also like to answer some other issues that have been brought up. Stepnpull is installed so low on the door that your foot is off the ground about an inch not far at all to trip and fall or lose your balance and if the door pressure on the closer is set to ADA standard at 5 lbs anyone from a child to the elderly can use it. We have been on the market for about 8 years and have over 10,000 units out worldwide and they are in just over 1,000 businesses in the US. Please try them let us know – we have not had any of the issues mentioned in this blog. Thank you Lori

  8. Beth says:

    This actually is really cool, I could see using it in a lot of situations. Using one of these, combined with a door handle that you push down on to undo the latch, it could really improve the capabilities of someone who has arm weakness issues even for doors that have a latch. just push down with your hand or arm on the door handle to undo the latch, and use the foot pull to pull the door open.

    The other cool thing…it can serve as the door’s “stop” before the handle puts a hole in the wall, and it’s so low that it would hit base molding, thus not leaving damage behind.

  9. Paul says:

    It would seem that as long as there was also a standard (hand) pull on the door, the choice to use or not use the Stepnpull is up to the individual, thereby mitigating liability. All of the arguments for safety could be equally applied to the standard pull, the closer, or even to the door itself.

  10. Ryan says:

    Can these be installed on a fire rated door?


    • Lori says:

      Hi Ryan –

      I’m sure they’re not listed for use on fire doors, but in addition, fire doors have to latch so you’d have to use your hands to release the latch anyway.

      – Lori

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