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New standards, EN 81-20 and EN 81-50, harmonized and effective

The new standards, EN 81-20 and EN 81-50, have been harmonized under Directive 2014/33/EU since April 20, 2016. The harmonization and application of these standards infer conformity with the Lifts Directive.

Transition period

A transition period of slightly more than 36 months was agreed. As a result, elevators based on EN 81-1/2 + A3 could be delivered and installed until August 31, 2017, the date on which the standard was withdrawn. 

Update required

An update of the standard EN 81-1/2 +A3 was badly needed. This standard was 15 years old. The main goal of the new standards is to bring lift safety in line with current insights. The incentive for this update came from research within the European Commission, advice from industry organizations and notified bodies, as well as interpretations of the current standards.

Input from America, China and other countries has also been incorporated in the new standards. The goal is for EN 81-20 and EN 81-50 to become the leading international standards. Furthermore, in terms of structure, the new standards must also fit the new framework of lift standards, as established within the working group CEN TC 10 of the European Commission.

Differences between EN 81-20 and EN 81-50 and EN 81-1/2 +A3

Pieter Schaareman, Manager Codes & Standards at Liftinstituut, explains a number of the reasons for the replacement of the EN 81 standards. “The new standards are necessary in connection with engineering changes, rectifying errors in the old standards and – highly practical – because more amendments have been added to the old standards than allowed. The new standards also incorporate public comments from both European member states and other countries like China.”

Larger space at the top of the shaft and in the pit

The new changes relate to the safety of both lift users and engineers. “The biggest change is that in a number of cases larger refuge spaces are required at the top of the shaft and in the pit. This particularly applies when more people are able to stand on the car roof.” As a tip, he said that the differences between the old and the new standards are summarized in the EN 81-12 standard and this includes cross-references to the different standards.

The most important changes in EN 81-20 compared to EN 81-1/2

  • Ventilation: Ventilation requirements are included only insofar as they are necessary for the lift. Otherwise, local legislation applies.
  • Refuge spaces on the car roof: If more people can stand on the car roof, the refuge space above must be modified. More refuge space must therefore be created.
  • Tools and monitoring: When bridging the safety line, for example when searching for a fault, special tools are required and extra monitoring.
  • Inspection controls in the pit: Depending on the risk, inspection controls are also required in the pit.
  • Stronger doors: Doors must be stronger, a pendulum shock test is required, and measures must be taken to prevent people being hit by closing doors.
  • Emergency lighting: For emergency lighting 1 lux must be used instead of 1 watt.
  • Suspension: In terms of suspension, there is a reference here to the new standard for load-bearing equipment. Safeguards against ‘hoisting’ are also required.