As of 31 August 2017, each lift installed must comply with the new security requirements imposed by the European Union. Although, according to statistics, the elevator is the safest means of transport, a new European directive wants to reduce risk to the maximum, while updating, adapting and harmonizing existing standards.
The data on safety are strong. Even some of the world's most curious lifts, like the five that go up to the 102nd floor observatory of the One World Trade Center in New York, advance at 37 kilometers per hour with great comfort and maximum safety.
The number of deaths due to an elevator accident is even lower than that derived from air accidents, which are considered to be highly safe. The same happens with the deaths that occurred when falling down the stairs. According to statistics, their number is 65 times higher than those produced by elevator accident.
New European Directive
The European Union has updated the existing safety regulations for lifts. The EU Official Journal (OJEU) published on 29 March 2014 the 2014/33 / EC Directive on lifts. In Spain, its entry into force occurred on April 20, 2016, although since then there has been a process of adaptation and coexistence with the old regulations.
Rules Developing the Directive
The application of Directive 2014/33 / EC of lifts gives rise to a legal framework which includes two standards. His texts introduce numerous technical and editorial changes, with respect to the previous ones in force.
They are the UNE-EN 81-20: 2015 and UNE-EN 81-50: 2015, which replace the previous UNE-EN 81-1: 2001 + A3: 2010 and UNE-EN 81-2: 2001 + A3 : 2010.
Their full names are:
- UNE-EN 81-20: 2015. Safety rules for the construction and installation of elevators. Elevators for the transport of persons and loads. Part 20: lifts for persons and persons and loads.
- UNE-EN 81-50: 2015. Safety rules for the construction and installation of elevators. Part 50: design rules, calculations, inspections and tests of lift components.
In the case of UNE 81-20, it includes the safety rules for building and installing a lift, either for transporting people or for loads. The following elevators are included:
- Those that are traction, with positive or hydraulic drive.
- Permanent installation.
- Those that are installed for the first time and serve defined levels.
- Those who have a cab for the transport of people or people and loads, suspended by cables, chains or cylinders and moving between guides, with a slope not greater than 15 degrees above the vertical.
For its part, UNE 81-50 defines the rules for design, calculation, inspection and testing of lift components.
The essential aspects of the new European directive can be summarized as follows:
1. The traceability of the elevator and its components is guaranteed, obliging to maintain and report at all times the origin, trajectory and destination of the machinery and its components.
This implies the following obligations:
- Manufacturers, vendors or installers of safety components of a lift are required to register, for at least 10 years, the establishment where it has been purchased and to which recipient each particular component has been sold.
- In each lift and in each safety component, a type, lot or serial number must be clearly marked, specifying the mark and a single address to contact in the language understood by the final recipient of the product.
2. It undertakes to communicate the possible risks of economic agents. In this way, manufacturers, distributors, importing companies and any agents involved in the supply chain must comply with the following requirements:
- The CE marking guarantee and the appropriate documentation and instructions must be offered.
- Always and permanently, defects and claims must be monitored.
- Guarantees of unchanged conformity must be provided for transport and storage.
- There should be immediate notification of the risks to the national market surveillance agencies.
- Derived corrective actions should be defined and communicated.
- At the request of the national market agencies, cooperation is required.
- When a component presents a safety risk, the company that has found it must notify the customer and the authority that performs the competences in the matter. In addition, you must take remedial action in the shortest time possible.
For such cases, the new directive facilitates the localization and replacement of components that are considered unsafe and are believed to cause security breaches.
With the new European directive, changes in security are introduced. The main ones are:
Safety and comfort for users
- The light inside the elevator increases.
- The range of the photoelectric barrier is extended. This is intended to end the unexpected closures that trap objects. It is forced to the introduction of an optical curtain.
- The panels, doors and floor of the cabin must possess a greater mechanical resistance.
- The roof must be able to be transported, for which it must be equipped with sufficient rigidity and a guardrail.
- The mirrors must have safety glass.
- The fire resistance of the interior decoration panels must be increased.
- In the design of the elevator, it must be taken into account the contraction of the concrete, in buildings of more than 40 meters in height.
Safety for Maintenance Workers
- The safety space is increased in the roof of the cabin and in the pit, in order to make the maintenance task more comfortable and effective.
- Illumination is increased in the gap through which the elevator passes.
- A control panel is inserted into the pit to increase safety in maintenance work.
- Means of access to the pit must be available such as doors or stairs. And requirements are determined for this in the corresponding annexes of the standards.
- It gives more resistance and height to the balustrade of the roof of the cabin.
- It gives more rigidity to the counterweight display.
- Each safety component is provided with a nameplate.
- Lifts with shock absorbers must be provided at the lower end of the cab travel and counterweight.
It must be ensured that an opening fault in the manual operation must not cause the braking function to fail. The brake must have automatic and manual opening.
Both the upstream and downstream velocities are established, not just downstream, as was the case up until now.
Work is already under way on further improvements to UNE 81-20 and UNE 81-50 to introduce issues that could not be included in published drafts. Regulated aspects include alternative suspension measures such as non-metallic cables or tapes, automatic rescue devices or vertical opening doors.
More than a decade of work
The new European directive is the culmination of a long period of work that has needed the involvement of many experts in the field and the AENOR agency, with the development of standards.
In fact, this has been the major change in the design of elevators in the last two decades. This has resulted in a regulation that guarantees greater levels of accessibility and safety, facilitates the next standard revisions, homogenizes the regulations in European countries and increases their level of adaptation to it. In addition, the texts are more intelligible, given that they have a clearer and more concise writing.
Coexistence and start-up
Since April 2016 it has been possible to install new elevators according to these new requirements, although it has also been possible to do following the old standards, which continue to be valid until now. However, as of August 31, 2017, the new regulations will prevail and will be binding.
Adapting to these new safety requirements is requiring the agents involved in the manufacture, installation and maintenance of lifts, a powerful investment. A large number of technological components, as well as technical and operational aspects, have to be replaced in order to prevent and reduce risks to a minimum.
Changes in definitions
Among the changes that emerge from this regulation are the definitions of some important concepts. It is collected what is understood by authorized person to access restricted areas and perform maintenance, inspection or rescue maneuvers.
Similarly, other concepts are defined as the person competent to perform the tasks indicated above, what is meant by installer, essential tools, preliminary maneuver or rescue maneuvers.
Definitions deleted or modified
Other definitions have been eliminated, such as the instant-action and damped effect parachutes, and other modified ones, such as laminated glass, user, elevator machine, machinery, engine room or cabin surface.
Even more security
All these implemented measures encourage a greater control of the elevators, to make them more safe. It guarantees the traceability of all its components and machinery, determines the conditions of installation and maintenance and, in short, put the conditions for greater comfort and confidence of the passengers.