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It’s been ‘crash tested’? So what!?

Related specialities: Testing

Manufacturers worldwide mention ‘Crash Tested’ products in their literature and promotional material, for example, head rests being crash tested. But, it is important to understand that no one crash test can full represent all conditions of wheelchair usage.

So if you are considering a ‘Crash Tested’ equipment, you need to ask the following questions:

  1. Which tests have been conducted on the equipment?
  2. What setup of the equipment does the manufacturer recommend for use in transport?
  3. Are these conditions relevant to the product and the situation it is being used in?
  4. Has the product passed Crash Testing in the conditions it is being used in?

Crash Tests for wheelchairs (the chair itself) are covered in ISO 7176-19, the vehicle tie-downs and the occupant’s restraint systems are covered in ISO 10542-1, and the seating systems in ISO 16840-4. The latter covers the structural integrity of support surfaces and any integrated postural support devices that form part of the seat.

There is no specific ISO crash test for ‘after market’ postural support devices such as belts, head supports or head rests. This means that the suitability of a postural support device needs to be covered by a risk assessment to determine whether the occupant is better protected against the forces experienced in accelerating, braking, or cornering, than without.

When considering crash testing, it is important to assess all the factors involved such as the chair, the secondary supports attached, safety of the occupant and the situation in which the wheelchair and it’s secondary supports are being used. The most important thing to consider is whether the crash tested devices have been crash tested together and if they are crash worthy (i.e. have they passed crash testing).

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