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There is probably thousands of wheelchairs on the market. Some wheelchairs have been specifically designed for a certain person. So, ideally, when you are putting anybody into a wheelchair, you have to make sure that that wheelchair fits the person. If you are putting somebody very large into a small wheelchair, it can be very, very uncomfortable for them. And equally, somebody quite small into a large wheelchair, again, that can not give enough support and it can be uncomfortable, and both sides would cause tissue damage and maybe even pressure ulcers. There is certain things with wheelchairs that we have to be aware of before we put anybody in it. And I am just going to go through some of the safety features. When I am doing training courses, I tend to do a little quiz, and I give the delegates a quiz to do, to look at the different aspects of a wheelchair. So we will start off at the top.

We have got to make sure that the grippers are tightly secure onto the wheelchair. You do not want to be taking somebody down a hill and these grippers to come off. We can not even imagine what the outcome could be of that. We are going to come round to the wheelchair. We have to make sure that the tires if they have got blown up tyres, that the tyres are nice and firm. So if you have got flat tyres, it can be really hard to push the person, and you do not wanna be making life hard for yourself. Again, we need to look at the brakes, and we make sure that the brakes work. So there is different types of brakes. Some brakes you can kick to put on, and some brakes you have to put on with your hand, making sure that you bend your knees and keep your spine in line. Equally, we will come round to the front, we have the footplates. Sometimes, you may have come across wheelchairs where the footplates are not there. We should not be putting anybody in a wheelchair when there is no footplates. It is part of the safety features of the wheelchair.

When we are getting somebody to sit in the wheelchair, we put the brakes on. Never ever the brakes is off when you are putting somebody in. It is just really common sense really, but people tend to forget when they are working in a rush or under stress. So the brakes is on when we are using the wheelchair. Some wheelchairs have safety belts. Again, under risk assessment, and only under risk assessment, you would clip the belt to the person. If you have got somebody who wiggles about and they may come down the wheelchair then, again, the assessment would have to be done because that could be very dangerous.

There is thousands, as I said earlier, of different wheelchairs on the market. So ideally and best practice is to learn how to use the wheelchair that you are using in your workplace. Some wheelchairs have wheels where the person can be totally independent and wheel themselves. Some of them are battery operated. Just a word of caution about battery operated wheelchairs; they are really heavy. So if they did go wrong, then it would be really hard to push if the remote is not working.

So just if you are not sure about anything, ask your manager. And again, a full and thorough risk assessment has to be done in order to make sure that safe practice is followed. Wheelchairs, as with all equipment that we use in the workplace, comes under the regulation of PUWER, and PUWER means, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. And one of the things that PUWER states is that equipment has to be well maintained and you have to know how to use it. You have to have been given training on how to use it.