Lifts & escalator requirements are important & are an easy and comfortable method of transport as a means to travel between floor levels. Not only does it provide ease, but it is also providing people with a disability to be able to access all needed levels of their choosing within a public space. Lifts are also installed in other parts of a building for other purposes, such as a goods lift to transport needed equipment or goods inside of a building. However, there are specific requirements for lifts & escalators that have to be in place for safety measurements. For example, have you ever wondered why some lifts have mirrors installed? The answer does not include for people to ensure that their hair & make-up are looking good. 

Lift Requirements

The minimum interior size of a standard lift must be 1,1 meters in width and 1,4 meters in depth, with a doorway unobstructed with no less than 800 mm. Many lifts will also include signage for the maximum amount of people that will be able to use the lift depending on the size. 

When a lift stops at the desired level, an audible announcement should occur, to indicate the lift car approaching, along with a visual indication that illustrates the current level of the lift e.g. ground floor level. The audio should indicate the following: the approach of the lift, the arrival, lift doors opening & closing, and the floor requested at which the floor lift stops. Why are these aspects important? This is to assist any disabled person with visual or hearing imparities. These are not the only requirements for lifts when considering users with disabilities, as the buttons of the lift cart should also have a universal braille language on them to easily assist a person with a visual disability. 

Returning to the question as to why some lifts have mirrors, the answer is so that a person with a wheelchair would easily be able to see the area behind him/her when the lift is too narrow to turn around. It is required that any lift should have a mirror installed on the top half of the rear wall equal to the width of the cart if the lift has an internal dimension of no less than 1,5 meters in width & 2 meters in depth. 

Signage within a lift is also extremely important, as it is required that all lifts should have signage indicating the necessary emergency numbers should passengers get stuck in the cart. All lifts must have emergency control buttons that are horizontally aligned, between 900 mm & 1,2 meters above the floor level of the cart. All emergency controls should include visual indicators for people with hearing loss. 

It is also important to note that lifts may not be used during an emergency & should return to the ground floor level when an emergency occurs. Such signage must also be indicated on the exterior lift – In case of an emergency use the staircase and not the lift – SANS 1186 Part 5

Escalator Requirements

An escalator is a moving staircase which carries people between floors of a building or structure. It is operated by a motor-driven chain of individually linked steps on a track. Since it is mainly motor-driven equipment it is therefore classified as moving machinery. Did you know that the yellow line on escalators is placed on each stair to visually separate each tread so that it is easier to see? And since it is considered a moving machine, it also acts as a warning indication to users to indicate the proper standing area, thereby preventing passengers from coming into contact with the skirt deflectors and stumbling.

An escalator should also have warning & safety signage indicated on the sides of the stairway, to ensure that the user is aware of the dangers when using the machine. There should also be a clearly marked emergency stop button installed on the escalator so that it could be initiated when an emergency takes place on the equipment. When a fire drill occurs or an emergency evacuation, it is required by law that the escalators come to a halt, so that people will be able to utilize the escalators as normal stairs. A moving machine can cause injury during a drill when the evacuees do not move or evacuate in a calm manner, therefore, to avoid any injury, the escalators are turned off. 

Escalators also have brushes on each side, these are known as ‘skirt deflectors’. It is designed to minimize the risk of trapping objects between the steps & the side of the escalator, known as the escalator ‘skirt’. It lessens the likelihood of items entering the gap between the steps & skirt by obstruction & deflecting loose clothing. 

Requirements for both

Every lift and escalator must be marked, in the machine compartment, in a conspicuous place. The information must be within the holder of the machine & indicate the following information:  

  • The name of the manufacturer
  • Year of installation
  • Year of modification
  • The official number that is given by the competent person that performed the installation 
  • The rated speed in meters per second
  • The rated load on kilograms

These are just some of the interesting requirements for lifts and escalators, which are often overlooked during the design & construction phases. The public is most definitely not aware of some of these requirements or reasons for specific installations of the equipment. 

Our Services

Cairnmead Industrial Consultants have over 34 years of experience within the construction industry as well as building operations for existing buildings. Our consultants can advise and specifically take a look at these aspects so that these requirements are not only addressed during the final stage of a project. 

Contact us to find out more:

Christof Lourens

CEO Cairnmead Industrial Consultants (Pty) Ltd

Tel: 012 346 5752 | Email:

Follow us on our social media pages:

You may also like