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EN 81-20/-50 Are Now the Mandate

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For more than 30 years, EN 81-1 and -2 were the main lift standards in Europe and, particularly during the past decade, in many other parts of the world. These documents were withdrawn at midnight on August 31.

New standards, EN 81-20 and -50, were delivered by the European Committee for Standardization Technical Committee 10 (CEN/TC10) in 2014 and, on September 1, became the only codes that give presumption of conformity to the Essential Health and Safety Requirements of the Lifts Directive for the design and manufacture of lifts in Europe. The first standard, EN 81-20, defines revised and updated safety requirements for the construction and installation of lifts. The second, EN 81-50:2014, sets out the test and examination requirements for certain lift components. All lifts with a European Union declaration of conformity issued after August 31 must comply with the requirements of these new standards or an equivalent level of safety.

The new standards aim at improving safety both for lift passengers and service technicians. The main changes to the safety requirements for passengers include those related to unintended car movement and ascending car overspeed; the door detection systems and car door locking mechanism; the fire classification of the car materials; the car and shaft lighting; and the strength of car doors, landing doors and car walls. For service technicians, specific changes are aimed at improving safety through requirements related to the pit and machine-room access; car roof and pit refuge spaces; and car-roof balustrades. EN 81-20 also introduces some changes affecting the shaft design, such as requirements related to glass walls, ventilation and fire-extinguisher devices. Shaft design is under the responsibility of the building designer, so effective exchange of information between the lift installer and building designer concerning these new requirements is crucial.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the lift industry are facing a double challenge. First, they must study and evaluate the main changes introduced by the new standards so they can apply them to the design and manufacture of new lifts. Second, they need the cooperation of their suppliers for the development of components for lifts and devices that meet the new requirements. National industry associations throughout Europe organized meetings and seminars for elevator-industry SMEs, raising awareness and promoting education and training on the new standards.

On September 1, EN 81-20 and-50 became the only standards that give presumption of conformity to the Essential Health and Safety Requirements of the Lifts Directive for the design and manufacture of lifts in Europe.

EN 81-20 also covers such topics as the onsite availability of special tools necessary for emergency operations, and detailed information about the procedures and timely replacement of worn items that might cause the lift to become unsecure, but these have not yet been fully implemented. This may be considered an advantage for both SMEs and users, as it facilitates the development of a free market for the after-sale servicing of lifts, even if the goal is not fully achieved through its current provisions. The goal will be achieved after CEN/TC10 fully implements the new Standardization Request issued by the European Commission (mandate M/549) by revising the harmonized standards for lifts — EN 81-20 included — to meet “those essential health and safety requirements necessitating technical specifications dealing with maintainability and serviceability of lifts and safety components” (Annex I of the mandate).

It is possible that the changes could place burdens on SMEs because of the close attention they must place on learning them, and because translations of the standards — which were issued in English, French and German — into several national languages will take time to be completed.

 For more information, visit the European Federation for Elevator Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (EFESME) at www.efesme.org, or email secretariat@efesme.org.

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