Safety Code For Elevators

Safety Code for Elevators

Homeowners who are considering adding an elevator to their property can rest assured that there are safety standards in place to make residential elevators safer and minimize the risk of injury. The code is from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and it is intended to serve as the backbone for the design, building, installation, operation, inspection, testing, maintenance, repair and alteration of elevators and moving lifts.

Called ASME 17.1 in the U.S. and CSA B44 in Canada, the safety code is made up of a set of voluntary national safety standards prepared by dedicated elevator industry professionals with high levels of expertise. While ASME 17.1/CSA B44 is designed for all types of elevators and lifts, section 5.3 of the standards focuses specifically on residential elevators and is a good guide to follow for home elevator safety compliance.

The ASME code is updated regularly in response to concerns or changes in technology. The most recent update was in 2019. Changes made to the code at the end of 2019 included:

  • Changes to door requirements for residential elevators.
  • Clarification of seismic requirements for elevators and escalators.
  • Updates to requirements for emergency communication inside of an elevator.
  • Modification of door requirements for passenger elevators.

Prior to the 2019 update, the code was revised in 2016 to make many safety improvements, including changes that would minimize the risk of injury to children using residential elevators. Learn more about the specifics of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Safety Code and how it helps to make residential elevators safe for all.

The 3/4 x 4 Rule

A set of revisions was made to the safety code for residential elevators to prevent entrapment and injury of small children between the hoistway door and the car door. These changes focused on decreasing the space between the hoistway door and elevator car door in three ways:

  1. Limiting the space between the hoistway door and the car door so that folding doors reject a 4-inch diameter ball at all points along the gate. For sliding doors, this applies to any 4-inch x 4-inch area.
  2. Ensuring that any car door can withstand a force of 75 pounds without warping or displacing the car door from its guide or tracks, so that small children cannot wedge themselves between the two doors.
  3. Deflection was limited to no more than 3/4 inch to minimize give and decrease the likelihood of accidents.

The reduced clearances were based on a hazard analysis that was conducted and provided to the subcommittee responsible for overseeing the codes for personal-use residential elevators.

Inclinator has been installing light curtain sensors as a standard feature since 2015 as a short-term measure while the aforementioned ASME 17.1/CSA B44 was being developed and approved. A light curtain detects any obstruction, such as a person, pet or object, that is between the hoistway door and the cab door. If an obstruction is detected, the cab will not be able to move until it is removed. Older elevators can be retrofitted with light curtains to reduce the risk of something becoming trapped between the hoistway door and the cab door.

To further support this safety initiative, Inclinator Company of America adopted the new code changes to ensure our residential elevators meet only the highest of safety standards on all models as of May 30, 2017.

Home Elevator Size Requirements

In addition to the rule limiting space between the cab door and hoistway door, there are several other requirements and standards that residential elevators need to meet. Some of the requirements of private residence elevators are described in chapter four of the United States Access Board’s ADA Standards. These standards focus on the required size of a home elevator car and the means of operation.

Additionally, section 5.3 of ASME A17.1 states that the inside area of a residential elevator cab shouldn’t be more than 15 square feet.

Other Home Elevator Safety Features

Section 5.3 of ASME A17.1 details other features a residential elevator needs to have to ensure safety. Several of the requirements include:

  • Hoistway requirements: The hoistway is the shaft the elevator travels up and down as it moves between floors. Under section 5.3.1.1 of ASME A17.1, the hoistway of an elevator needs to be fully enclosed and properly fire-rated based on the Standard Building Code. Additionally, hoistway key access is necessary on all floors. Key access allows emergency personnel to get into the hoistway if the elevator becomes stuck or there is another issue.
  • Machine room requirements: Elevators with machine rooms need to meet certain requirements, spelled out in sections 110-26 and 620-5 of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Per the NEC, the clearance in the machine room needs to be at least 36 inches from the wall to the controller with a non-conductive surface or 42 inches from the wall to the controller with a conductive surface. Additionally, the machine room shouldn’t be used for storage, per the electrical section of the International Residential Code.
  • Car clearance requirements: Per ASME 17.1, Section 5.3.1.3, the speed of a residential elevator determines the amount of clearance required between it and the overhead area. A car that travels at 30 feet per minute (fpm) requires a clearance of 6 inches. For cars that travel up to 40 fpm, 9 inches of clearance is necessary.
  • Backup power requirements: Residential elevators need to have a backup power source to keep people from becoming stuck in the elevator if a home loses electrical power. Additionally, the cab of the elevator should have emergency lights that turn on in the event of a power outage to reduce the risk of trips and falls.

How to Ensure Home Elevator Safety Compliance for Older Models

Modern residential elevators need to meet code requirements for safety and have numerous safety features. If you installed an elevator in a home years ago and homeowners are concerned about its safety, they have options. Residential elevator maintenance is essential to keep the elevator operating smoothly and for assessing its safety. During an inspection, a technician will evaluate the elevator’s overall condition and identify any repairs needed. If the elevator isn’t up to current codes, the technician can recommend changes to bring the older elevator into compliance with current safety codes.

Contact Inclinator to Learn More About Home Elevator Safety Compliance

Inclinator cares about the safety and well-being of all our customers, which is why we only install elevators that meet current codes. To learn more about our safety standards or to schedule a safety inspection of an existing residential elevator, contact the Inclinator dealer nearest you today.


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