Wheelchair Ramp Safety & Standards: What You Need To Know

Wheelchair Ramp Safety & Standards: What You Need To Know

Personal mobility is an important issue for people around the world; this means that it’s important to take the time to select a mobility device or aid that is right for you, be it a wheelchair, wheelchair, or walker. In addition to this, it also means that you need to complement your home with a wheelchair ramp to make it wheelchair accessible.

As with mobility devices and aids, wheelchair ramps greatly improve a user’s accessibility and ability to move around. To take advantage of this, users need to be aware of the safe way to use and install wheelchair ramps in their homes.

Here’s a short guide to help you understand the proper wheelchair ramp safety and standards that you need to know.

 

Wheelchair Ramp Standards

Permanent or semi-permanent wheelchair ramps are regulated by local laws to ensure the safety of its users. These will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but it’s important to keep in mind some general tips that will make wheelchair ramps safe to use.

As a very general rule, places in the U.S.A. and Canada commonly agree that wheelchair ramps should have a grade no steeper than 1:12. This means the maximum slope of the ramp should rise 1” in height for every 12” in length. This ratio ensures a steady slope that is easy to climb, and not too steep on descent. As well, your ramp should be installed with railings on both sides if it exceeds 6 inches in height.

According to Toronto Accessibility Standards, each individual section of your wheelchair ramp should be no longer than 29.5’ feet long and have a recommended width of 40” to allow railings to be in easy reach for the user.

No matter its height or length, your permanent ramp should end in a top landing at its apex. This can take the form of an existing or newly built deck or porch, or it could be a purchased aluminum top landing.

A good practice for installing wheelchair ramps is to contact your local building department and work with them to guarantee your new wheelchair ramp complies with all required regulations.

 

Portable Ramps

Compared to permanent ramps, portable ramps are not usually covered by local regulations due to their transitory nature. All the same, you should be sure not to exceed a maximum grade of 1:6 (twice as steep as permanent ramps) or as advised by either the ramp or wheelchair/scooter manufacturer’s directions.

 

Modular Ramps & Ramp Kits

Modular ramps and ramp kits are wheelchair ramps that are delivered to the customer in either half- or fully-formed states. These semi-permanent ramps are considered “permanent” by law because they need to be dismantled to be moved, unlike portable ramps. For this purpose, installed modular ramps and ramp kits need to follow local building regulations for wheelchair ramps.

 

Safety

Wheelchair ramps come in a wide variety of styles, but some general tips can be applied to every situation:

  • A wheelchair user should only be pushed up or down a wheelchair ramp by a qualified helper
  • Do not exceed the recommended weight limit of the wheelchair ramp during use
  • Get into the habit of backing the chair down the ramp, and use a lap belt for safety
  • Take extra care during inclement weather when wet or icy conditions can cause the ramp to become slippery

As well, portable wheelchair ramps carry their own set of rules of which users must be aware

 

Portable Wheelchair Ramps

Portable wheelchair ramps come in folding and non-folding varieties for different levels of practicality. They are very handy to use for temporary situations, but this also increases the risk of danger.

The biggest safety issue of using a portable wheelchair ramp is slippage during use, especially when improperly anchored or during rainy or snowy conditions. To prevent this, users should:

  • Properly secure the ramp to the upper level using pins that can be inserted through the ramp and secured to the step, deck, or vehicle
  • Make sure your portable ramp is long enough; a short ramp will increase the slope, making it more difficult to embark and disembark a vehicle
  • Clear the area of any snow or ice to avoid risk of slipping
  • Watch out for damaged, worn, or loose parts and keep it free of debris and dirt
  • Try not to exceed a 20” height differential when using a portable ramp as this will push the limits of the ramp and increase the risk of danger to the user

By following these standards and safety tips, you’re on your way to many years of trouble-free wheelchair ramp use!

Are you looking for a wheelchair ramp? Factory Direct Medical offers a wide variety of wheelchair ramps that include modular ramps, ramp kits, portable ramps, and threshold ramps! Use our convenient Ramp Length Calculator to precisely calculate what type of ramp you need.

To learn more about wheelchair ramps, check out our blog or download or e-book!