Citation

  • Jones, Y., Mattie, J., Wong, A., Boulton, L., Sabeti, S. (2022). The Effects of Powered Wheelchairs and Related Powered Mobility Devices on Loading and Design Requirements for B355 Platform Lifts, Canadian Standards Association, Toronto, ON.

Executive Summary

Power mobility devices present challenges for equipment covered in CSA B355-19, Platform Lifts and Stair Lifts for Barrier-Free Access. Power chairs exceed the weight limits previously established for traditional wheelchairs, and their larger size can be challenging to accommodate. Advanced models offer adjustment capabilities that drastically alter the centre of gravity of the chair/user system, introducing tipping hazards not previously considered. Rollaway protection may be insufficient to prevent the chair from accidentally falling from the lift.

Several types of power assist "add-on" components exist that turn the manual wheelchair into a power wheelchair, providing additional weight, mobility, and power that lift manufacturers may not have considered. The risk of unintended movement is also a factor.

The project objectives were to:

  • Review power wheeled mobility devices for rated load, speed, and user positioning capabilities;
  • Examine the effects of motorized mobility devices on loading and design requirements for CSA B355 equipment;
  • Identify and review international standards related to CSA B355 lifts;
  • Obtain feedback from end-users and subject matter experts on using powered mobility devices and CSA B355 equipment;
  • Provide recommendations to consider for inclusion in the next edition of the standard.

The research included a literature review and environmental scan, interviews with subject matter experts, focus groups with platform lift stakeholders and a national survey of lift device users. The BCIT Research Ethics Board provided ethical approval for this research.

The scan and review identified a variety of platform lift and wheeled mobility devices, new research on anthropometry for wheeled mobility and built environment design factors, device specifications, and local, national, and international standards and statutes relevant to CSA B355. For simplicity, lift devices were categorized as vertical and inclined platform lifts, and mobility devices were identified and separated into five categories based on design similarities. The research identified load capacity, maximum speed and power, wheelchair and lift control inputs, wheelchair footprint and turning radius, and tipping and protrusion hazards as standard parameters requiring review. Accidents and incidents were also reviewed for additional safety considerations.

The Standards review revealed that the CSA B355 platform size, turning radius, and minimum rated loads are inadequate for many mobility devices. Some devices have an increased risk of tipping hazards from access ramps and safety flaps. Protrusions within the lift can interfere with chair controls, leading to inadvertent loss of control. Safety flaps are inadequate for some devices' maximum speed and power, as evident from accident reports. Lifts and lift controls are poorly labelled, and the need for continuous pressure to operate the lift is problematic for some users.

The needs for public vs residential lifts can be very different; hence there should be different requirements for each within the standard. With public lifts, there appears to be little forethought around device selection and there is often a deficiency in jurisdictional responsibility and enforcement around repairs and maintenance. The standards and building codes should be harmonized, and a legislative and regulatory body should make compliance mandatory and enforceable.

Suggested improvements include automated safety features to mitigate accidents. Greater attention to human factors and universal design is recommended; public lifts should be accessible to a range of users, and controls should be operable with one hand, without awkward hand/wrist postures and with limited force. They should not require a key for access. Nearly half of all users have a second person/animal with them or may carry additional equipment that should be considered in the lift design.

The research findings identified limitations within the current standard and made suggestions for improvement. While some findings were outside of the standards domain, by bringing some of the issues experienced by lift users to the attention of stakeholders, groups may be able to act on them and make continual improvements.

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