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Design Considerations in Ramps and Thresholds
    DHS home | People with disabilities | Publications & data | Design for safety | Ramps and thresholds

    Worksite Redesign Technical Advisory Project

  • All transfer areas present potential sites for injuries to occur. Ramps are especially dangerous because there is a change in height as well as the potential for uncontrolled rolling. The grade allowance should be determined based on the functional capacity of the residents for the home. Residents in self-propelled or staff-assisted wheelchairs require the optimum grade possible. Covering ramp areas is ideal but sometimes not practical. The slope should be kept as gentle as possible -- a rise of one foot every 12 feet of ramp is ideal, while a rise of one foot every eight feet is the steepest grade safely negotiable.
  • Provide for:
    • Non-skid surfaces
    • Maintenance through regular cleaning, inspection and annual pressure-washing
    • Guardrails on any elevated walking surface at 42"
    • Adequate curbing for all ramps, at a minimum of four inches
    • Clearance from obstructions, restrictions and/or tripping hazards -- e.g., planter boxes, chairs, rugs, equipment, etc.
    • A level landing entry outside all doors, at a minimum of 36" wide. Examine resident requirements for the possible need of a wider landing
    • Concrete surfaces rather than wooden surfaces
  • Entrances must be wide enough to permit unimpeded travel. Keep entry paths into rooms and spaces as wide as possible to avoid trapping situations (42" minimum, 60" ideal). Thresholds must have as low a profile as possible to avoid walking/tripping hazards, they can also present serious impediments to mobility of the resident or the staff member moving the resident. Transitions from one surface to another, or one level to another, must be smooth and fluid. Entryways should have straight access, and avoid corners and angled passageways.

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  • Walkway is 42" wide-60" is preferred
  • Planters under the windows should be removed
  • Excellent design, curb, guardrail and handrail support staff and resident safety
  • The 60" level area at the front door allows for safe turning, movement and side-by-side assistance
  • Covered ramp with 1:12 pitch also has a level transition to the sidewalk
  • Chair should be removed from the path
  • Double-acting gate allows movement in both directions
  • Guardrail replaces the need for a curb

 

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  • These ramps are designed for use by specific residents
  • The 42" high guardrail along the edge of the ramp provides safety for staff and residents
  • The straight pathway above is a good feature. Try to avoid turning entries; to protect users and facilitate entry
  • A 48" wide ramp allows resident ambulation assistance; a 60" width is preferred
  • Inspect ramps semi-annually and maintain them with pressure-washing and moss/mold treatments
  • At 2' 8", this doorway is too narrow for a stand-by-assist, or to easily manipulate a wheelchair or walking device
  • Screen door adds an additional obstruction and further limits entry access
  • Straight entry paths are preferred
  • Care needs to be taken to keep porch free of clutter
  • A screen door can be an impediment and/or obstruction
  •  Provide a level landing at door, at a 36" minimum
  • Provide a handrail
  • Insure ramps are securely attached

  

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  • Lighting mounted high between two doorways creates glare and may be blinding-keep light low and diffused
  • 74" wide, cement apron allows easy wheelchair access-and side-by-side assistance to a resident
  • Double door allows egress for a gurney or hospital bed in cases of emergency
  • Glass within 12" of a door must be tempered
  • Handrail must be secure
  • Maintain surfaces with pressure-washing, treatment and regular inspection
  • Do not use ramps or rails for storage
  • 44" wide doorway accommodates good wheelchair access
  • Glass within 12" of a door must be tempered
  • Rugs are a tripping hazard and should be replaced with beveled walk-off mats
  • Threshold ramp smooths the transition from the exterior door lip to interior. The ramp reduces hand force and avoids a lifting transition
  • Rugs can cause tripping and traction loss
  • Ramps must be well-secured
  • Doors must have tempered glass

 

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  • Ramps are designed for use by specific residents
  • 42" guardrail protects staff from falling. Guardrail along the edge of the ramp provides safety for staff
  • Avoid turning entries, to protect staff and facilitate entry for residents
  • 48" wide ramp allows resident ambulation assistance-a 60" width is preferred
  • Inspect ramps semi-annually and maintain them with pressure-washing and moss/mold treatments
  • Guardrails must resist 70 pounds of outward force
  • Inspect and maintain all ramps
  • 48" wide ramp, with a 1:12 slope and 3 1/2" curb, meets standard specifications
  • Exterior illumination is provided and should be regularly inspected
  • Standard door sills are an obstruction
  • A ramped area with a 1:12 grade is most desirable for wheeled devices and persons with gait disturbances. Steeper ramps demand greater hand and arm force to maneuver the grade
  • Door sills, tracks and thresholds should have the smallest possible offset from the floor in order to prevent tripping
  • 48" width of this ramp is tight for side-by-side assistance to a walking resident-60" width is preferred
  • Screen doors pose problems-outswing operation and self-closing hinges make door an obstruction to entry


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  •  Thresholds must be wide and flat to avoid a tripping hazard
  • Select contrasting material for threshold to bring visual attention to the transition
  • Thresholds must be securely fastened, and maintained through regular inspections and cleaning
  • Transition ramps should extend beyond the door opening
  • Thresholds should be wider than the door opening
  • Contrasting colors and materials can be seen clearly in this ramp
  • Ramps must be inspected to insure traction and secure fastening
  • Non-skid surfaces should be used
  • Low profile thresholds provide easier transition across doorways
  • Thresholds at sliding doors are a challenge because of track and need for exterior and interior transition
  • Thresholds must be at least as wide as the door
  • Additional sill provides traction and low profile design
  • Insure that carpet used inside the door is non-skid backed



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