How Lift Manufacturers Have Changed to Meet New Safety Regulations
In our infinite quest to build skyward, the need for lifts has become an increasingly important factor in construction. The design, installation and ongoing maintenance of a lift is something that requires a huge amount of planning and foresight in order for it to run safely. Built to carry people up to genuinely hazardous heights, if the correct safety precautions have not been put in place, there could be a potentially lethal situation.
Luckily, there are extremely stringent rules governing the safety of lift installation and maintenance, meaning that the likelihood of a hazardous situation arising is extremely slim at around one accident in every 12 million elevator rides. This makes using a lift one of the safest ways to travel, no matter how often they fail in the movies.
In 1998, the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations, also known as LOLER, were brought into force, introducing provisions to cover the safe use and provision of lift equipment. This was the standard up until very recently when new regulations came into law on September 1st 2017. These new regulations set out by the European Union are known as EN81-20 & EN81-50 and have changed the way that lift safety is monitored.
For those working in the industry, things have had to change in order to meet these new regulations, yet, what do these new regulations entail and how do they differ from their predecessors? With this in mind, we decided to create a handy guide to answer these very questions.
What do the regulations stipulate?
Although many of the 1998 regulations are still in place, the new stipulations came into force to replace the EN 81-1 and EN 81-2 standards. The two new regulations can be sorted into two categories:
- EN 81-20: sets out safety requirements for construction and installation.
- EN 81-50: sets out test and examination requirements for certain lift components.
These two categories cover the general safety and comfort for both passengers using the lifts and for service personnel who may need to carry out maintenance checks on the unit, as these are the two most common groups using lifts. With these in mind, they cover a variety of improvements and also focus on how buildings are designed to accommodate these new regulations.
How does this affect passenger safety?
When it comes to the day to day usage of the lifts, passenger safety needs to be at the forefront. That is why these new regulations seek to clarify and improve upon their previous iterations to provide a more comfortable and safe ride for passengers.
For example, the speed of the car is one of the many factors covered in the new regulations. If the car moves unintentionally or overspeeds, it can be an extremely distressing experience for those riding in the lift. The 2017 regulations look to minimise this problem by improving the protection mechanisms that stop the car moving away from the platform and broadening the requirements for car ascending overspeed to rescue operations.
Of course, maintaining a comfortable and consistent speed during transit is only part of what makes a safe ride. The automatic doors of the lift can cause issues if not working properly, catching passengers and in the worst case scenario, crushing them in the doors. To counteract this, door detection systems require a curtain of light mechanism which is specifically designed to inform the closing door of an obstruction, minimising the chance of any injuries incurred.
Another of the requirements outlined in the new legislation pertains to how the doors are locked during transit between floors. It is now a legal requirement for lift manufacturers to add an automatic locking mechanism designed to keep the car doors shut when not connected to a landing floor; this is to stop passengers prying the doors open and falling into the shaft when stuck between floors.
Although these three stipulations are important, there are a host of others focusing on aspects such as lighting, use of fire-resistant materials in construction and the physical strength of the walls used to the car. All of these help to make what is already an extremely safe environment, even safer.
How does this affect technician safety?
Aside from passenger safety, the new legislation puts a particular emphasis on the safety of the technicians who work on the units, adding a myriad of safety features that make accessing the various sections of the lift safely.
Changes and improvements have been made to new lifts’ machine room and pit area; the spaces which contain all the necessary components for a technician to carry out their job. As potentially dangerous spaces, the new legislation standardises safety dimensions for things like ladders and lighting and requires pits deeper than 2.5 metres to include some form of an access door in the case of an operative being trapped.
Refuge spaces on top of the car are required to be bigger, ensuring that technicians have ample room both to carry out maintenance and repairs whilst also minimising accidents. The roof of the car should also have balustrades fitted that comply with the correct height and strength standards set out by the European Union.
Are building regulations affected?
Although the new requirements focus primarily on the safety of those using lifts, it does cover a significant amount regarding construction and building design. For example, all glass surfaces used in the creation of the lift and its components need to be properly laminated to minimise breakages and the strength of the shaft walls need to have 1000 newtons of force in order to be compliant.
However, one of the most interesting changes regards the responsibility of the lift’s shaft ventilation. Although the lift manufacturer is required to offer all information necessary to the lift, it is the responsibility of the building designer to ensure that all the proper precautions are taken with ventilation.
Does this cover existing lifts?
Although the new legislation focuses on all elevators built after August 2017, it may be a good idea to look into refurbishment models to bring your lift up to standard. Some companies offer refurbishment and modernisation services to bring you in line with regulations – so it’s always good to check. For those in the process of building a lift, it might not be possible to fully redesign to coincide with legislation.
However, it is possible to have your lift built in accordance with the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (ESHRs). Whatever the case, it’s important to talk with your lift supplier to look at your options.
From commercial elevators to disabled access lifts; Euro Lifts has you covered
Safety for passengers and technicians is hugely important when it comes to lift manufacturing as is the general comfort of the ride. With this in mind, it is in your best interests to work with an industry leading manufacturer to ensure that your investment takes you to the next level.
Here at Euro Lifts, we strive to create quality lift solutions from our headquarters in Plymouth to the South West of England and beyond. Our qualified team of expert technicians have all the necessary skills and experience to help with all issues regarding installation, refurbishment, repairs and a host of other services. We work with lifts of all kinds and can just as easily repair a goods elevators as we can standard passenger lifts.
And, with our 24/7 emergency call-out service on hand for repairs, you can rest assured that your lift will be fully covered in the event of a breakdown.
For more information on our huge range of lift solution services, check out our website or get in touch to talk to a member of our team.