The British Standards Institution (BSI) has just released the new European standards for lift design and manufacture, EN 81-20 and EN 81-50. Warren Jenchner explains why they are set to have a big impact on FM and the building industry.
4 November 2014
Released at the end of August 2014, the new EN 81-20 and EN 81-50 standards have not only replaced the EN 81-1 and EN 81-2 standards introduced in 1998, but have also completely restructured the way lift manufacturers and, importantly, their clients must approach compliance with lift safety legislation.
In laymen's terms, the new standards are as follows: EN 81-20 focuses on the design requirements for both hydraulic and traction passenger and goods lifts, taking into consideration the space required, and the size and strength of doors, landings and shafts. EN 81-50, on the other hand, dictates the standards required for safety components such as landing door locks that lift companies either manufacture or buy in from third parties when installing lifts.
Previously lift safety legislation compliance was dependant on the type of lift in a building. For example, if dealing with a hydraulic lift, the EN 81-2 would be relevant, and for traction, compliance with EN 81-1 was required. The standards are no longer separated according to lift type - now, for a lift to be fully compliant, both new standards apply.
The structural requirements of new lifts have altered substantially. Lift shaft walls need to be able to withstand greater perpendicular forces to deflect potential damage and protect the lift shaft. The force a shaft wall has to resist has increased from 300N (in clause 22.214.171.124, as specified in the now defunct EN 81-1) to 1000N in clause 126.96.36.199.2 of EN 81-20.
Alex Miles, certification and approval director of Lift Cert, a lift regulations body explains: "The material used for the doors of entrance landings will be heavier owing to increase on requirements from 300N to 1000N. Heavier doors may well require the entrance landing spaces to be larger, and there must be increased space in the pit, on the car roof and at the top of the shaft. This is to accommodate the engineers who will ensure that your lifts are working efficiently and safely."
To comply with the new EN 81-20 standard, buildings must have three different types of safety space; lift maintenance engineers must be able to lay, stand or work in a crouching box. These spaces have to be accounted for in building plans, as well as lift design, providing extra considerations for architects, building contractors and lift manufacturers alike. The dimensions required used to be set at 500 ft by 600 ft by 800 ft, but are now more complicated as the exact dimensions depend on the solution provided by the lift manufacturer.
The new standards are more rigorous, but also clearer, with an emphasis on advanced technology, increased efficiency and an optimised use of space. The ultimate aim is to reduce risk and make lifts safer and more comfortable for all those who interact with them: the construction workers who build them, the maintenance workers who keep them running, the FMs who oversee them and, ultimately, the passengers who use them. Consequently, understanding the new specifications outlined in the standards is not only the responsibility of those in the lift manufacturing industry. Building and facilities managers have a role to play too.
EN 81-20 and EN 81-50 are relevant to new installations only, rather than existing lifts, but the standards describe best practice, and observing best practice gives the end user a superior service. Not only are the safety benefits clear, it is entirely possible that EN 81-80 - the refurbishment standard - will be revised to be in line with the new standards in the near future, so you can get ahead of the game by purchasing new components in line with the standards specified in EN 81-50 when maintaining lifts. For example, use approved safety components, such as gate lock valves. Again, although it will involve expense, it will produce later efficiencies too.
The new standards come with a three-year adjustment period; this means that although EN 81-20 and EN 81-50 were published in August 2014, manufacturing companies (and lift projects) have until August 2017 to be fully compliant, allowing time for designs and manufacturing processes to be modified. That doesn't mean you should rest on your laurels - it's best to get ahead now. Large building projects in planning or starting now may well not be finished before 2017, so time is of the essence.
Purchasing EN 81-20 and EN 81-50 from the BSI is the first step and further support and information can be found through the Lift and Escalator Industry Association (LEIA), the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), as well as from notified bodies, such as Lift Cert and, of course, from lift manufacturing companies.
Warren Jenchner, managing director of Apex Lifts