***Update: The elevator code has been revised. The current edition, ASME A17.1/CSA B44-2019: Safety Code For Elevators And Escalators, is available on the ANSI Webstore. You can also read about the new safety code here.
The standard for elevators and escalators is ASME A17.1 – Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators. This covers the design, construction, operation, inspection, testing, maintenance, alteration, and repair of the equipment and any associated parts, such as hoistways or adjacent spaces.
The document applies specifically to “hoisting and lowering mechanisms, equipped with a car, that move between two or more landings” (elevators), “power-driven stairways and walkways for carrying persons between landings” (escalators and moving walks), and “hoisting and lowering mechanisms equipped with a car that serves two or more landings and is restricted to the carrying of material by its limited size or limited access to the car” (dumbwaiters and material lifts).
In ASME A17.1, the key concern is safety, and by working to assure the efficient use of elevators (or lifts) and rooting them with rigid recommendations, the daily passengers of the elevator cars remain safe. The majority of these efforts are present in the elevators’ construction. This includes design considerations such as using the correct materials, allocating for allowable stresses, a means of suspension for cars and counterweights, and braking mechanisms, just to name a few.
As for escalators and moving walks, the design specifications are written with the same safety interests, but they, of course, are catered to the relevant equipment. For example, the guidelines for escalators call for many important design characteristics in the balustrades, such as their materials (glass or plastic), strength, and geometry.
ASME A17.1 has been in use since 1921, and its many revisions have undergone changes to keep it current and assure that compliance with its guidelines protects the equipment comprising elevators and escalators, along with the people involved with their use.
Changes to ASME A17.1-16
***Please note: these changes are those made to the 2016 edition of the standard, which has since been revised.
The 2016 revision contains many changes, and there are alterations all throughout the many sections of the incredibly extensive document. Some of these are to the specifications, some are more editorial, and some involve the addition or adaptation of defined terms. For example, elastomeric buffer, “an energy-accumulation-type buffer with nonlinear characteristics (such as a polyurethane buffer) using resilient materials to cushion the impact force of the descending car or counterweight,” has been added.
To assist in compliance with ASME A17.1-2016, the early pages of the document list all changes made with their corresponding location.
The guidelines in ASME A17.1-2016, which incorporate the industry’s expertise, serve as recommendations for elevators in the United States. However, in many parts of the U.S., local governments require adherence to the latest version of ASME A17.1 as part of the law. For this, it is important to know your legal requirements, since they supersede the content of the recommendations. For an overview of these, please refer to: State Elevator Code
CSA B44: Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators in Canada
In Canada, ASME A17.1 functions as CSA B44. This has been incorporated into the National Building Code of Canada, the rules of which have attained legal status by their adoption in certain provinces. You can learn more about this here: Model Code Adoption Across Canada
ASME A17.1-2019 – Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators is now available on the ANSI Webstore.