Wheelchair lifts provide a convenient and ADA-compliant design that improves accessibility in commercial buildings. When installed correctly, the system meets ASME A18.1, ASME A17.5, ADAAG, ANSI A117.1, and NFPA 70 (NEC) regulations.
Nevertheless, simply having a wheelchair lift does not ensure the safety of all passengers. Instead, to improve mobility for anyone in a wheelchair or motor scooter entering your facility, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Meeting requirements is not enough
Not only must a vertical or platform lift comply with all above standards, it is required to meet building requirements. Further, the system must receive regular maintenance to ensure dependent operability and passenger safety.
2. Have clear floor space
Any ground or above-grade landing area must offer at least 30 inches by 48 inches of clear space from forward and parallel angles.
3. Watch the ground below
Even if the lift itself is maintained, the ground below a landing may prove to be a hazard for the user. Instead, any carpet below must be attached, with any exposed edges fastened to the floor surface. The material may have a firm cushion, pad, or packing, or none at all, and any level or textured loop or cut or uncut pile texture can be no more than ½-inch thick. Similarly, grating below a wheelchair lift landing area cannot have gaps wider than ½ inch.
4. Will it meet the same needs as an elevator?
When a building is constructed from the ground up, an elevator is preferred. However, a wheelchair lift is acceptable, as long as it meets the following requirements:
• The system provides an accessible route
• It complies with line-of-sight and dispersion requirements
• It provides access to the same places as an elevator
Or, if you’re simply looking to give a newly-constructed building wheelchair access, consider installing a Limited Use, Limited Application (LULA) elevator instead.
5. Wheelchair lifts are only for passengers
The platform design might tempt some workers to use the mobility system as a lift for supplies and equipment. However, keep in mind that the ramps, non-skid surface, and lifting capacity are built for passengers in wheelchairs or motor scooters only and cannot handle freight and similar lifting work.