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Thread: Official guidelines on ramps

  1. #1
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    Official guidelines on ramps

    Does anyone know where to find official guidelines on ramps (portable/temporary)?

    I've seen the building regulations and numerous websites that provide unofficial advice but is there anywhere that provides official guidance?

    TIA

  2. #2
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    I've never come across any regulatoons for non-fixed ramps.
    I used to design trailers so would have come across any that there were.

    If there are any for disability purpises then it is likely to be simply regarding the maximum angle when in use; and will be the same angle as the fixed/permanent ramps in the building regs.

    Obviously with portable ramps the angle will depend on the step you use them with.

    With non-fixed ramps you couldn't specify widths because they could be split ramps, there won't be handrails with portable ramps (if there were then the building regs would apply again).

    When I used to design trailers we just used to make ramps as long as practical, the longer you could get the ramp the shallower the angle in use.
    If we knew the trailer was to be used for scooters or wheelchairs we would make sure it came within the building reg. angles for disability ramps.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    I've had a look round, and yes non-fixed, or portable, ramps for wheelchair use should conform to the same as building regs.
    Which means approved document M.
    https://www.gov.uk/government/public...ved-document-m

    To summarise:
    A maximum of 1:12 gradient for wheelchair ramps for unassisted use.
    For assisted use this changes to 1:8 over short distances.

    Of course the regulations for non-fixed ramps can not be absolute, because as they are not fixed then the same length ramp could be used on different heights.
    In which case it would be up to the user to decide if the slope was acceptable or not.
    And that would depend on the surface of the ramp, the ground it is used on, whether it is raining or icey, etc.

    If it's your own portable ramp then it's up to you.
    If it's a temporary (non-fixed/removable) ramp at a public building then it should conform with approved document M.

    But note that even there document M gives "recommendations" not absolutes.

    To calculate the gradient use the height of rise (step) by the ratio.

    Examples:
    For a 1:12 gradient.
    The step is 150mm (approx 6") high, x 12 = 1,800mm long (approx 71", or 1.8M).

    For a 1:8 gradient:
    The step is 150mm (approx 6") high, x 8 = 1,200mm long (approx 47", or 1.2M).
    Last edited by nukecad; 31-01-18 at 20:47.
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    Thanks and apologies for the late reply, I received no notifications and then couldn't find where I had posted

    Regarding portable ramps and building regulations.
    Where exactly does it say they have to comply to building regulations?
    I was always under the impression they had to part of the structure or fitted to comply.

    "For assisted use this changes to 1:8 over short distances."

    Where does it say that in the building regulations?

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    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    You are asking where I found information almost six months ago?

    Firstly- note that my previous reply stated that portable ramps should comply with Approved Document M, not that they must comply.

    As I said at the start of my first reply - "I have never come across any regulations for non-fixed ramps".
    As far as I am aware there are no such regualations in existence, so providers of portable, and non-fixed, ramps attempt to comply with Document M.
    I say 'attempt' because they have no control over how a customer uses a portable ramp.
    This inability to control end user use is probably why no legisation exists, it's impossible to legislate how an individual would use a portable ramp.

    Portable ramps cannot by definition be "part of the structure or fitted to comply".
    They are portable so are not "part of the structure".
    They are portable so how they are "fitted" depends on the person using them, not the building.

    The bit about assisted or unassisted gradients was not from building regulations, I never said it was, it was from something about non-fixed wheelchair ramps.
    After six months I can't remember exactly where it was from. (It is generally quoted in various manufacturers literature).


    It may help if you could tell us what you are trying to achieve, so we could concentrate on that rather than generalities.

    Are you looking to design/make some portable ramps?
    Are you looking to buy some portable ramps?
    Are you looking to prove that someone is using/providing ramps that are too steep?
    Is someone telling you that you can't use your own ramps because they are too steep?
    Something else?

    And just to note there is a difference between 'portable' and 'non-fixed' ramps.
    Portable ramps you can carry around with you. (By hand, strapped to your chair/scooter, or in a vehicle).
    Non-fixed ramps could mean portable, but non-fixed in this context usually means 'removable' or 'kept on site for occasional use'.
    Last edited by nukecad; 12-06-18 at 16:55.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Lighttouch's Avatar
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    The ramp gradient should be no steeper than 1 in 12. Ideally it should be 1 in 20.

    That means for every 20 feet in length it can elevate to one foot high at one end.

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    I'd repeat nukecad question - WHY are you asking? Do you need a ramp building? are you checking an existing one? in contact with a new builder? If we knew a bit more maybe we could help???

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    Quote Originally Posted by nukecad View Post
    You are asking where I found information almost six months ago?

    Firstly- note that my previous reply stated that portable ramps should comply with Approved Document M, not that they must comply.

    As I said at the start of my first reply - "I have never come across any regulations for non-fixed ramps".
    As far as I am aware there are no such regualations in existence, so providers of portable, and non-fixed, ramps attempt to comply with Document M.
    I say 'attempt' because they have no control over how a customer uses a portable ramp.
    This inability to control end user use is probably why no legisation exists, it's impossible to legislate how an individual would use a portable ramp.

    Portable ramps cannot by definition be "part of the structure or fitted to comply".
    They are portable so are not "part of the structure".
    They are portable so how they are "fitted" depends on the person using them, not the building.

    The bit about assisted or unassisted gradients was not from building regulations, I never said it was, it was from something about non-fixed wheelchair ramps.
    After six months I can't remember exactly where it was from. (It is generally quoted in various manufacturers literature).


    It may help if you could tell us what you are trying to achieve, so we could concentrate on that rather than generalities.

    Are you looking to design/make some portable ramps?
    Are you looking to buy some portable ramps?
    Are you looking to prove that someone is using/providing ramps that are too steep?
    Is someone telling you that you can't use your own ramps because they are too steep?
    Something else?

    And just to note there is a difference between 'portable' and 'non-fixed' ramps.
    Portable ramps you can carry around with you. (By hand, strapped to your chair/scooter, or in a vehicle).
    Non-fixed ramps could mean portable, but non-fixed in this context usually means 'removable' or 'kept on site for occasional use'.
    Again, thanks and apologies for late reply again, have been in hospital for past few weeks and struggling a bit at the moment :-(

    Apologies also if I came across as argumentative, it wasn't my intention.

    With regard why asking the question
    I've actually been selling ramps for 15+ years are endlessly asked about regulations on ramps, which as you have seen isn't an easy question to answer.

    When it is an individual I tend to give manufacturers recommendations but tell them it is effectively down to them to make a decision.

    The problem is OT's, service providers, councils, etc.
    They are never happy making a decision on what is acceptable, most think the building regulations apply so they end up not getting their clients/customers ramps where small portable ramps would be adequate.

    Nobody is prepared to order a ramp that isn't 800mm wide, 1:12 gradient, 100mm upstands because they have read somewhere that they are not allowed to which results in people having nothing.

    Surely a 1:8 small lightweight ramp is adequate for a small threshold but unless they are read this somewhere officially anyone with any responsibility for anyone else won't do this.

    If I could just find some Official guidance to point people to things would be so much simpler, but nobody appears to put anything on paper that isn't similar to building regs

  9. #9
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Hi Penod, hope your feeling better.

    I understand now why you were/are looking for this, and you are going to struggle to find anything official because there just isn't anything.

    If you are selling a ramp to an individual then it's up to you and them to decide what is or isn't acceptable.
    As you no doubt know many manufacturers have ramps in their ranges that are going to be steeper/narrower than building regs.
    As you say dorstep ramps in particular tend to be much steeper to keep them short.

    But if it's to an organisation, or funded by an organisation, then they will have their own rules.
    And of course every organisation is scared of getting sued for providing 'inadequate' equipment nowadays.

    Because of the lack of anything else to consult then they will fall back on building regs as they are the only thing that they can find to use.

    I would think that if you want to supply these organisations, or their grantees/customers, regularly then you will need a concerted campaign with each one, targeting their purchasing manager or department.
    If you can get just one onside then the others will be more likely to listen.

    You would need to convince them that ramps from a particular manufacturer are perfectly acceptable, otherwise they would not still be in business and still selling them.
    You could show them similar ramps from different manufacturers that have gradients steeper than building regs.
    You might get a particular manufacturer to help with your campaign, if you can sell more of their ramps then you both make more profit.

    But in the end whoever controls the money controls what is bought with it and can specify whatever they want.
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    I just find it frustrating that it is used an excuse to do nothing.

    For a small 150mm threshold a family member or wheelchair user them self can keep a short/folding ramp by the door and use it as and when required.
    Once OT's or carers are involved though this goes out the window and platforms outside doors, longer ramps, handrails, etc. are then required (which doesn't get done) :-(

    Like you say, you can't blame the people with the responsibility, why should the risk fall on them, but if there was official guidance that wasn't as strict as building regs it would solve all the problems (I've been ranting about this for years)

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