Q’Straint’s QRT-360 securement meets a WC18 requirement that goes into effect December 2015
New product design and crash-test requirements for wheelchairs by the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) have already been implemented, but additional ones go into effect December 2015. The main change at that time will apply to WC18, a standard that acts as a companion to the WC19 standard that went into effect in 2000.
Meanwhile, last October at the NAPT Summit in Grand Rapids, MI, wheelchair securement provider Q’Straint, Fort Lauderdale, FL, introduced a new retractor that meets the higher load requirements of WC18.
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Both WC18 and WC19 are voluntary standards aimed at improving transportation safety for those who must ride in a wheelchair while in a moving vehicle, including a school bus. The WC19 standard mandates the use of wheelchairs that have been crash-tested and come with an integrated lap belt. The WC18 standard dictates that tie-down equipment must meet the added weight load requirements associated with WCI9-compliant wheelchairs.
To comply with the new industry standards published in RESNA’s Wheelchairs and Transportation, Volume 4, the WC18 wheelchair standards, wheelchair tie-downs or other securement devices have to pass two different dynamic strength tests.
While WC19-compliant wheelchairs are built with four crash-tested securement points to tie-downs and can withstand forces of a 30-mph impact, the standard also made WC18 and stronger tie-downs necessary.
Both WC18 and WC19 are meant to escalate the current Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J2249 regulations. A J2249-mandated wheelchair has lap belts either anchored to the vehicle or to securements. In a collision, the occupant in this type of wheelchair moves forward and their load is transferred to the floor of the vehicle through an occupant restraint.
In a WCI9 wheelchair, both the wheelchair and the occupant move forward. In this case, the occupant’s load is transferred to the WC19 wheelchair supplied lap belt, through their wheelchair and then directly to the retractors secured to the floor. The occupant’s load is dispersed between the shoulder attachment to the vehicle and the chair’s two lap-belt attachments.
Combining the load of both the occupant and wheelchair places a significant increase on the loading for the rear tie-downs.
“Transit providers, including those who provide school transportation, paratransit and public bus services, and family members and caregivers who operate private vehicles, need to be aware of these new standards, and products to comply with them,” said Dr. Larry Schneider, chair of the RESNA Committee on Wheelchairs and Transportation and head of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, in a statement.
Ahead of the game
Q’Straint Product Manager Patrick Girardin says the company had been developing its new QRT-360 for “several” years in anticipation of the WC18 requirement.
“The [new retractor] can be utilized now, as the WC19 wheelchairs are already popular,” Girardin said in a statement.
The QRT-360 is a four-point, heavy-duty, fully automatic retractable tie-down system designed to work in a 30-mph frontal crash when the occupant is in a WC19 wheelchair in a moving vehicle. It is compatible with a variety of wheelchairs as the shortened retractor footprint allows for more flexibility in vehicle anchor-point locations. Some of the product’s features include an energy-absorbing steel frame, new high-strength, 58-mm-wide webbing and a fine-adjustment, self-tensioning mechanism using 25 high-strength teeth in the retractor locking mechanism.