Wheelchair passengers are at an obvious increased risk of injury when coming to a standing position, transferring to another seat or navigating inclines. According to Texas Mutual, a leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Texas, employees and volunteers managing wheelchair passengers need to understand two basic rules of operation when assisting passengers:
- Treat the wheelchair as if it has no breaks. In other words, even when the breaks are locked, stabilize the wheelchair to prevent movement or tipping when the passenger attempts to stand, sit or transfer.
- Place yourself on the downhill side of the chair to better maintain control when navigating curbs, ramps or steps.
In addition to these two cardinal rules, “Management of the Wheelchair Passenger” offers many other practical do’s and don’ts when it comes to safely assisting wheelchair passengers. Be sure to share these recommendations from Texas Mutual with all employees and volunteers who assist wheelchair seated individuals.
Following here’s a summary of what you’ll find:
- Maintain a firm grip on the wheelchair’s handles
- Ask the passenger the passenger how you can help if you’re unsure
- Know the sequence of events before you start assisting the passenger
- Explain what you’re going to do and how if this is the first time you’re assisting the passenger
- Be gentle and avoid squeezing the individual’s arms or legs; they can be sore
- Be patient and remember that handicapped and elderly individuals take longer to complete some tasks and activities.
- Lift the chair by the arms; they may be removable
- Rush, but take your time, move deliberately and be careful
- Surprise a person by taking hold of him unexpectedly
- Encourage personal, social relationships.
- People who use crutches, braces, and other assist devices must work very hard to get around
- Disabled and elderly people take longer to do things
- Many disabled and elderly individuals are in constant pain.
- People who use crutches and braces may have a difficultly keeping their balance.
- Don’t equate handicap with intelligence
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issues its final revised Regulations to Implement the Equal Employment Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with accompanying interpretive guidance. These final Regulations interpret the Americans with Disabilities Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which was originally signed into law by President George W. Bush on September 25, 2008, and went into effect January 1, 2009.
The EEOC's Regulations, along with other resources, took effect on May 24, 2011. We encourage you to view an Advisory explaining how these Regulations change the ADA landscape. To learn more about the value of HELPLINE and how to enroll, please talk to your agent and visit the website. Clients already enrolled in HELPLINE can view this month's Question of the Month and ask specific HR risk management and employment law questions directly to attorneys through the HELPLINE website. For access codes, please contact the HELPLINE toll-free at (877) 568-6655. For information on coverage relating to ADAAA services, visit our site and check back on our blog.