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The Straight & Curved Stairlift Buyers Guide®

 

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Curved Rail Stairlifts

Curved Rail Stairlifts

 

Safety and the Stairlift

Safety and the Stairlift

Is a stairlift safe?

Elderly Man Riding on a Stairlift
Elderly Man Riding on a Stairlift
Stair lifts come with a multitude of Safety features. Safety features protect you, your loved ones and users from injury or harm.
 
  • It is important if you are looking for an inexpensive cost saving price that you don't overlook or exclude the must have essential Safety features and benefits which are surprisingly very affordable for a budget.

Failsafe Overspeed Governor

OSG Regulator and OSG Assembly
OSG Regulator and OSG Assembly
  • An Overspeed Governor (OSG) and gear safety device will lock the lift to the rail in the event of a mechanical failure or excessive speed. Caution: Not every stairlift has this indispensable safety feature called an Overspeed Governor.

 

  • This cutting-edge feature for restriction of the speed of the stair lift, to stop unexpected or instantaneous descent; a stairlift fitted with an Overspeed Governor (OSG) and gear safety device will deadlock the lift to the rail in the event of a mechanical failure or extreme speed.

 

  • If a stair lift does not have an Overspeed Governor - the stair lift is not safeguarded from an unmanageable descent, if a major drive system failure should occur. In this case, the stair lift could plunge to the foot of the stairway, with dreadful consequences.

 

  • Many leading manufacturers believe an internal Overspeed Governor (OSG) should be standard equipment on a stairlift. This feature instantaneously stops the stairlift unit in the unlikely event a stairlift exceeds a safe limitation of an overspeed unrestrained descent and is a stairlift safety equipment vital feature.

Caregivers and the Elderly

Caregiver and an Elderly Woman
Caregiver and an Elderly Woman
  • A caregiver helping an elderly person with poor grip strength, poor footing or balance, while walking up and down the stairs, is a dangerous situation for both.
  • Chances are high for a possible injury from falling onto the stairs or the possibility of a lethal fall to the bottom of the staircase.
  • Elderly people attempting to climb stairs, who cannot navigate steps successfully on their own, are being placed in a dangerous situation.
  • If an elderly person has poor grip strength, leg strength, poor footing or balance while climbing stairs; an accident is sure to follow. As the elderly person falls on the stairs, the caregiver can lose balance and fall at the same time. Both could tumble down the staircase.
  • A home stairlift is a good, safe and cost-effective alternative choice to falling on the stairs, moving to a one story dwelling or making home modifications and being confined to living on one level of your home.
  • Installing a stairlift in a home is a good accident preventive safety measure for all concerned.

Safety Cut-off Sensor Surfaces

Safety Sensors on Foot Rest and Carriage

There are up to 5 pressure sensitive safety sensor surfaces or safety edges that stop a stair lift in the event of a collision with any obstruction on the stairway. These Safety Sensors are located around the footrest, and on the top and bottom of the carriage.

 
If there is an obstruction on the stairs, a stair lift will detect it with at least one of the pressure sensitive surfaces situated around the stair lift. If an obstruction is detected, the stairlift will cease movement, so that the obstruction may be removed. Once the object is removed the stair lift will proceed as usual.

What happens if there is a loss of electrical power to my home?

Stairlift Battery Works During Power Outage
Stairlift Battery Works During Power Outage
  • Stairlifts equipped with DC batteries provide a safety safeguard. In the event of a loss of electrical power to the home, with a fully charged battery, you may still continue to use the stairlift.
Key Lockable On/Off Isolation Switch
  • The stairlift cannot be operated with a Key Lockable On/Off Isolation Switch unless the key is inserted and turned to the operating position.

 

  • A stairlift should be fitted with a Key Lock On/Off Isolation Switch. You can lock the stairlift when not in use, to prevent children and others from unauthorized use.

 

  • The stair lift continues to charge when locked.

Child Safety on the Stairs

Child Safety on the Stairs
Child Safety on the Stairs
  • Walking up and down the stairs, while holding a child, can be a dangerous situation for both concerned; for the chance of a fall and injury on the staircase.
  • For those who have difficulty navigating the stairs, especially while holding a child, a stairlift can be an absolute solution for this serious problem.

Safety Seat Belt

Safety Seat Inertial Reel Lap Harness Belt
Safety Seat Inertial Reel Lap Harness Belt

A safety seatbelt is an absolute requirement. A superior seatbelt for stair lifts come with an inertial reel lap harness for extra security and safety. This is like a seat belt in a car, and will keep you in the stair lifts seat at all times. Safety is a priority when going up and down the stairs.

Birth to the Elderly Stairlift Safety

Stairlifts are used to transport people of all ages from a child in a child safety seat, young injured persons, the handicapped, pregnant women, those with a sports injury, patients after major surgery, adults, parents, seniors, grandparents and the elderly.

Safe and Easy to Use

Safety Features

 
  • When purchasing a stair lift it is important to look for certain safety features that may or may not come equipped on a stairlift system. Verify all safety features you wish to have installed on your stairlift with the manufacturer.
  • Specific safety features can include Safety Sensors that prevent the machine from becoming obstructed by objects in its path or a Swivel Seat with lock safety feature that will not allow the stair lift to move until it has been locked into place by the user. Dual Braking System Mechanical and Electrical  (electromechanical) are important safety features that prevent the stairlift from descending down a staircase uncontrollably should the motor fail.
Children Stair Lift Safety
Children Stair Lift Safety
Children Stair Lift Safety
  • Children should never use or operate a stair lift and should not play within the immediate area of the staircase. Some stair lifts come equipped with a safety device that prohibits the stair lift to move until a key has unlocked it.
  • If a child is medically authorized to use a stairlift, an adult must supervise a child at all times, to prevent accidents and ensure that the child is secured by a child seat belt, is in the seat at all times and does not stand up on the machine.
  • For child use (such as a handicapped child) it is recommended that a home care medical specialist, a doctor, a nurse and the stairlift manufacturer be consulted and that a specialist must examine the home situation and stairlift configuration, before a child may be authorized for transport on a stairlift in the home.
  • Child Seat Stairlifts can be custom manufactured and are in use for children all over the world.
  • A Child Seat Stairlift has a special tailor-made chair that fits on a range of our stairlifts of one manufacturer.  Every child is individually assessed on their specific needs and the chair is tailor made to fit the child.  The chair can “grow with the child” with the removal of the chair padding to create extra space. It can also be adapted in the future when the child out-grows the chair.

Dual Braking Mechanical and Electrical Systems (Electromechanical)

Motor Brake | Main Control Board | Motor Gear Assembly | OSG Assembly
Motor Brake | Main Control Board | Motor Gear Assembly | OSG Assembly
  • Dual Braking System, a stair lift can have both a mechanical and electrical braking system. This prevents the stair lift from descending out of control, in the unlikely chance that there is a motor failure.

 

  • It is essential that your stairlift be equipped with a dual mechanical and electrical braking system, an important safety feature that prevents the stairlift from plunging uncontrollably down the staircase should the motor mechanism fail.

Grandparents and Grandchildren Safety

  • A grandparent may put themselves and a child in jeopardy; when they try to climb stairs with the child when they should not.
  • Walking up and down the stairs, while holding a grandchild, can also be a dangerous situation for both; due to the chance for a possible injury from falling onto the stairs or the possibility of a lethal fall to the bottom of the staircase.
  • One of the greatest joys of a grandparent is a grandchild. Many grandparents, visiting the grandchild’s home or grandchildren visiting grandparents for a sleepover, may have difficulty climbing the stairs to attend to or to visit with the child needing to go to sleep at bedtime.
  • Some grandparents may miss out on these treasured moments, perhaps not being able to read a bedtime story; or tuck them in, due to the fact they have difficulty with the stairs and cannot climb the steps to be with the child.
  • An installed stairlift in a home may be a good safety option for all concerned.

Is a stairlift safe for grandchildren when they visit my home?

Key Lock On/Off Isolation Switch
Key Lock On/Off Isolation Switch
A stairlift should be fitted with a Key Lock On/Off Isolation Switch. You can lock the stairlift when not in use, to prevent children and others from unauthorized use.
 
The stairlift cannot be operated unless the key is inserted and turned to the operating position.
 
The stair lift continues to charge when locked.

Pregnant Women Safety

Pregnant Women Safety
Pregnant Women Safety
  • Pregnant women can also take advantage of the safety benefit that a stair lift can provide.
  • During a pregnancy, a mother’s center of equilibrium varies substantially, causing stairs to become a risk. A woman may need to lean back further to keep their balance and a steep staircase can be challenging to use.
  • A higher risk of injury, including pulling of muscles and dislocation of hips can occur. A pregnant woman in the varying stages of pregnancy who wants to minimize her risk of injury may consider a stairlift as an option.

Limit sensors

Stairlift Carriage Limit Sensor
Stairlift Carriage Limit Sensor
  • The stairlift should have Limit sensors to ensure that the stairlift always stops in the correct position.
  • These are fitted on the rail at the top and bottom and make sure that the stair lift always stops in the correct position on the staircase.
  • Some stair lifts have a Start / Stop Action, so at the end of every journey there will be no jolt.

What about stairlift maintenance?

Certified Stairlift Technician Performing Maintenance
Certified Stairlift Technician Performing Maintenance
  • Although a stairlift design uses as many maintenance free materials as possible, it is recommended that you have the stairlift maintained, serviced and inspected for Safety by a Certified Stairlift Technician at least once a year.
  • You can select from a range of different maintenance and service contracts. A stairlift technical advisor can go over the contracts which they have to offer.

Swivel Seat Chair

Man Swiveling in a Swivel Seat at the Top Landing of the Staircase
Man Swiveling in a Swivel Seat at the Top Landing of the Staircase
  • A stair lift carriage equipped with a Swivel Seat will turn and lock into position, allowing the stair lift user to dismount in safety at the top of the stairs. A swivel seat also acts as a barrier, preventing the user from potentially falling back down the stairs.

 

  • Your stairlift should be equipped with a Swivel Seat on the carriage to ensure greater safety. A swivel seat allows the user to safely dismount from the stair lift at the top of the stairs.

 

  • Specifically. a swivel seat acts as a barrier that prevents the user from falling back down the stairs. This is because, as you swivel round on the swivel seat, the back of the stair lift seat is now behind you which prevents you from falling back down the stairs after use.

 

  • These chairs swivel and make it easier for the user to board and disembark the machine. Swivel seat chairs are safer for the user, as when disembarking the machine, the chair faces away from the lift, therefore decreasing the chance of falling down any stairs. The stair lift will not operate; until the user has safely locked the swivel chair into place.

 

  • A lockable swivel seat allows the user to safely enter and exit the stair lift without the need for twisting the body.

 

  • A Swivel Seat  locks in either 45° or 90° position allowing the seat to turn and lock in either a 45° or 90° position, helping you get in and out of your stair lift, easily and safely.
Can I perform stairlift service myself?
The Accessibility Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (AEMA) does not support the concept of self-installation or servicing of accessibility lifts by inexperienced persons.
 
Marketing to consumers via the internet or a storefront or elsewhere may initially appear to be acceptable. The perception is that it provides accessibility equipment at a lower cost for those who can least afford it. It is recommended that you explore all options and obtain a free no-obligation manufacturer Survey and Consultation to obtain all facts for pricing and in considering making a decision for self-installation and self-service.
 
However, self-installation may also create a Safety Hazard to the consumer! How does the consumer ensure that the equipment is installed:
 
  • In a Safe manner?
  • In a manner that ensures Operational Safety?
  • In conformance with local codes and regulations?

Smooth Start / Stop Motion

Stairlift Smooth Start / Stop Motion
Stairlift Smooth Start / Stop Motion
A soft Start / Stop Action system means no sudden jolts. A smooth start stop motion eliminates any jolting at the start and at the end of each journey. Your stairlift should have a smooth start stop motion. This is vital feature for those people who suffer with bad backs and will eliminate the risk of injury through jerky start stop motions.
Battery DC Power
Battery Power
Battery Power
  • Properly installed Low Voltage Battery Power operation eliminates the risk of an AC electrical shock.
  • Because DC stairlifts run on low voltage battery operation, there is no risk of receiving a high voltage AC electric shock when the stair lift is operating.
  • Battery powered Direct Current (DC) stair lifts do not use high voltage home mains power voltage on the stair lift itself, as it runs off of batteries usually 24 volts.
  • The stairlift runs on maintenance-free rechargeable batteries and will continue to keep on working for more trips up and down the stairs, even in a total loss of a power blackout!
  • The stair lift usually is powered by 2 12 volt batteries, 7.2 amp/hour sealed gel type lead acid maintenance free batteries. The batteries can be located in a steel tray inside the stair lift carriage unit and are wired in series to output 24v DC

Safety Codes and Stair Lift Safety Standards

A Stairlift Should Meet International and Local Safety Codes and Standards

 

A Stairlift must comply with stringent safety standards.

 

A Stairlift should be specified to meet or exceed the requirements of:

 

  • ISO 9386:2-2000 International Standard for Stairlifts*
  • AEMA Stairlift Standards - An Association of Members of the Accessibility Industry
  • UL compliant (Underwriters Laboratory Inc) for mechanical and electrical hazards
  • ASME A18.1 Safety Standard for Platform Lifts and Stairway Chairlifts, 2008 Edition, as required by States and Municipalities
  • ASME A17.5 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators 
  • BS 5776:1996 - British Standard - 'Specification for powered stairlifts'
  • CE Mark - Stairlift meets the requirements of the applicable European Directive(s).
  • TÜV Certification 

 

Verify with the manufacturer as to its accreditation and approval concerning International, State and Local Jurisdiction Compliance Codes.
 
*Power-operated lifting platforms for persons with impaired mobility -- Rules for safety, dimensions and functional operation -- Part 2: Powered stairlifts for seated, standing and wheelchair users moving in an inclined plane
 
  • A safe stair lift is one that has been approved by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The ASME approval indicates that the manufacturer has followed specific safety standards and guidelines when building the stair lift. Purchasing a stair lift with this approval increases safety, reliability, productivity and efficiency.
  • For Codes of practice and technical specifications applying to stairlifts manufactured for North America these codes may be relevant:
    • ASME A17.1 - 1990, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators
    • ASME A18.1 - 2005 Safety Standard for Platform Lifts and Stairway Chairlifts
  • ASME is a not-for-profit membership organization that enables collaboration; knowledge sharing, career enrichment, and skills development across all engineering disciplines, toward a goal of helping the global engineering community develop solutions to benefit lives and livelihoods. Founded in 1880 by a small group of leading industrialists, ASME has grown through the decades to include more than 130,000 members in 158 countries.
  • All Stair lifts should exceed the highest levels of the British Safety Standards, European Safety Directives, and US & Canada's regulations.
  • Many British stairlifts are built and designed to comply with the British Standard for stairlifts (BS5776): 1996 as well as ISO 9386-2: 2000 Power operated lifting platforms for persons with impaired mobility - Rules for safety, dimensions and functional operation. Powered stairlifts moving in an inclined plane for seated, standing and wheelchair users.
  • The CE marking or formerly EC mark, is a mandatory conformity marking for certain products sold within the European Economic Area (EEA) since 1993.[1] The CE marking is found even on products sold outside the EEA, because they are either products manufactured in the EEA and had been exported, or they were manufactured in other nations which have EEA as a prime market. This makes the CE marking recognizable worldwide even to people to who are not familiar with the European Economic Area. It is similar then, in that sense, to the FCC Declaration of Conformity used on certain electronic devices sold in the United States.
  • An important specification used by stairlift manufacturers in Europe was British Standard BS 5776: 1996 Specification for Powered Stairlifts, produced by The British Standards Institution.
  • If unsure you should ask to see whether your stairlift has been tested to meet the British Safety Standard BS5776. These stair lifts meet the highest levels of the British Safety Standards.
  • Note: codes of practice and technical specifications are updated occasionally. References may be out of date by the time they are read and are shown as examples.

Safety Edge Cutoff Sensors

Footrest with Safety Edge Cutoff Sensors
Footrest with Safety Edge Cutoff Sensors
  • Your stairlift should be equipped with integral pressure-sensitive Safety Sensors surfaces which are another vital safety feature and work by inhibiting the stair lift from colliding with any hindrance or obstruction on the stairway. Typically safety surfaces are located around the footrest, on the under tray on the footplate, at the top of the carriage and at the bottom of the carriage.
  • These multiple built in Safety Sensors spontaneously detect anything that may be in the pathway of the stairlift up and down the stairs.
  • Safety cut-out sensors are highly effective and will therefore detect for anything that is blocking the progress of the carriage, around the footrest of the carriage that could potentially be a hazard when the stair lift is in use. This stops any unnecessary accidents from happening.
  • When sensors detect potential obstructions between the carriage and the stairs, the cutoff switches bringing the carriage automatically to a safe standstill on the rail track.
  • To satisfy safety codes stairlifts usually have cut-out switches connected to the “safety edges” so the drive power is disconnected if something goes wrong.
  • "Safety edges" are a feature to the carriage power pack and footplate, to ensure that if there is any obstruction on the stairs, the stairlift will automatically stop and only travel away from the obstruction.

Self Installation of New Stairlifts and Pre-owned Stairlifts

Warning

 

Accessibility Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (AEMA)

 

An Association of Members of the Accessibility Industry (AEMA), PO Box 380, Metamora, Illinois, 61548-0380

 
POSITION PAPER
The Accessibility Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (AEMA) does not support the installation or servicing of accessibility lifts by inexperienced persons.
 
COMMENT
 
In the past few years, there has been an increase in the concept of providing lifts over the internet and from storefronts or warehouses with the intent that the end-user (consumer) is expected to perform his or her own installation and servicing. (Self-installation). The practice is most evident with stairway chair lifts, but vertical platform lifts and other accessibility lift models, both used and new are also available through this marketing method.
 
AEMA does not support the concept of self-installation!
 
Marketing to consumers via the internet or a storefront or elsewhere may initially appear to be acceptable. The perception is that it provides accessibility equipment at a lower cost for those who can least afford it.
 
However, it may also create a hazard to the consumer! How does the consumer ensure that the equipment is installed:
• In a safe manner?
• in a manner that ensures operational safety?
• in conformance with local codes and regulations?
 
Providers of equipment that is marketed direct to consumers have a responsibility to ensure that it is installed and serviced by experienced technicians.
 
Accessibility Lifts today are quite sophisticated both mechanically and electrically/electronically. It is not reasonable to assume that a person unfamiliar with lifts and their installation or service requirements would be aware of the potential hazards likely to be encountered if a lift is not installed or serviced correctly. With current technology, that knowledge is only available when experienced technicians are utilized.
 
Some points of interest:
• Many jurisdictions require a lift to be installed in conformance with local or National Codes. In many localities, the codes referenced are the ASME A17.1, the A18.1, and the NFPA70 (National Electrical Code). A consumer installing a lift would not be familiar with the safety requirements of the applicable codes such as clearances, electrical safety, proper anchoring, etc. Such non-conformance to the codes may make the installation unsafe.
• Licensing and permitting required. Many jurisdictions require a lift to be installed by a licensed, trained technician and the lift inspected by the local authority having jurisdiction prior to placing it in service.
• The potential hazards of “self-installation” apply to both used and new equipment.
 
There are many “used” lifts available on the market today. It is the position of AEMA that all lifts, new or used, must be installed and serviced by experienced technicians.
 
Common sense would seem to dictate that the installation or servicing of any equipment intended to transport people should require the service of an experienced technician. This is especially true for the elderly and disabled members of our communities.
___________

 

 

ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers)

 

 

Stair way lifts, whether they are installed in a private residence or a commercial building, are governed by the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) A18.1 national public safety code. In Many States stair way lifts that are installed in a home do not need to be inspected by a licensed elevator inspector; however, they must still meet ASME code. In many states, chair lifts that are installed in public areas such as churches, schools, municipal buildings, must also meet the ASME A18.1 code, but they must be inspected by a licensed elevator inspector upon installation and every year thereafter.
 
If you are trying to provide ADA Code compliant access to a commercial building, a stair-lift would not be a good solution.

Warnings and Precautions

Do Not:
 
  • Do not operate a stairlift unless a manufacturer stairlift specialist has demonstrated to you how to use a stairlift safely and has properly trained the user(s) and members of the household of important best practices safety procedures and operation of a stairlift to avoid any unnecessary accidents.
  • Do not carry pets or children on your lap while riding the stair lift. The stairlift is designed for use by only one person at a time.
  • Do not allow your feet to hang over the edges of the footplate.
  • Do not allow your feet to leave the footrest while the stairlift is in motion
  • Do not permit children to play upon or with the operation of the stairlift
  • Do not permit more than one person to use the stairlift at any one time
  • Do not place items on the rail track, or leave items on the stairs, which they could encounter with the stairlift in operation.
  • Do not try and operate the swivel seat while the stairlift is in motion.
  • Do not turn the swivel seat until the stairlift has come to a complete stop at the top or bottom of the staircase.
  • Do not swivel the seat without the lap belt fastened.
  • Do not mount or dismount the swivel seat unless it is locked in position
  • Do not use the stairlift in a standing or perch position unless it has been specifically designed for this purpose.
  • Do not use the stairlift without using the seat belt, lap belt, or safety harness.
  • Do not use water or a damp cloth to come into contact with the components of the stairlift. Always clean a stairlift or rail track with a dry cloth.
A Note about Bifocal and Trifocal Glasses Safety
  • Though bifocals and trifocals provide a wider range of vision than monofocal ("single vision") eyeglass lenses, there is one drawback: they make objects at your feet blurry unless you remember to tilt your head down. This can be a safety issue for some wearers when they are walking down stairways.
  • In a recent study published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, researchers in the UK found that single vision lenses helped presbyopia (those with age related problems with near vision) better judge the height of lower steps when walking down stairs, compared with bifocals or progressive lenses.
  • The study authors concluded that having a second pair of glasses with single vision lenses for use when negotiating stairs can lower the risk of falls, especially among elderly multifocal wearers.
  • The same may be true for presbyopia for those walking in poorly lit areas, especially when negotiating sidewalk curbs. For these reasons, it's wise to consider purchasing a separate pair of "walking" eyeglasses with single vision (distance) lenses, even if you are perfectly happy with your multifocal glasses.
  • Some stairlift models offer audio signals that help individuals with poor eyesight, as well as those who are blind, to use the lift safely.
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