Entrapment and extraction of wheelchairs at flange gaps with and without flange gap fillers at pedestrian railway crossings

Farries, Kevin, Baldock, Matthew, Thompson, James, Stokes, Christopher, and Unsworth, Carolyn A. (2024) Entrapment and extraction of wheelchairs at flange gaps with and without flange gap fillers at pedestrian railway crossings. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology. (In Press)

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Purpose: Where pedestrian crossings meet rail tracks, a flange gap allows the train wheel flanges to pass. This gap can be hazardous for wheelchair users as castor wheels may become trapped. While compressible gap fillers can eliminate the flange gap, fillers are subject to wear, pose a derailment hazard to light rail vehicles and can strip grease from passing wheels. These issues could be mitigated by partially filling the flange gap with a compressible filler. The aim was to investigate the risk of entrapment and ease of extraction of wheelchair castors from flange gaps fully and partially filled with compressible fillers, and assess ride quality.

Materials and methods: Entrapment risk and ease of extraction for four wheelchairs were tested at various crossing angles with flange gap fillers. Twelve wheelchair users tested ease of extraction and ride quality for partially and fully filled flange gaps.

Results: It was found that risk of entrapment is low if a standards-compliant crossing with open flange gaps is traversed in a straight line. However, castors can become trapped if the user alters direction to avoid an obstacle or if the crossing surface is uneven. Once trapped, castors are extremely difficult to remove without external assistance.

Conclusions: Flange gap fillers that reduce the gap to 10 mm or less eliminate entrapment while retaining acceptable ride quality. Filling flange gaps or leaving a residual gap depth of less than 10 mm is the best option to eliminate risk of entrapment and ensure good ride quality for wheelchair users.

IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION Rail crossings flange gaps pose an entrapment hazard for wheelchair users Partial or complete flange gap fillers may reduce entrapment but require research Rehabilitation professionals need to educate wheelchair users on techniques to cross flange gaps safely Consumers and health professionals can consult rail operators to partially fill flange gaps.

Item ID: 81509
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1748-3115
Keywords: flange gap, mobility scooter, railway crossing, safety, Wheelchair
Copyright Information: © 2023 the author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons attribution-noncommercial-noderivatives license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. the terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the accepted manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.
Date Deposited: 29 Feb 2024 00:14
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4201 Allied health and rehabilitation science > 420104 Occupational therapy @ 80%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420604 Injury prevention @ 20%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200403 Disability and functional capacity @ 100%
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