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The Vital Role of Elevator Code in Safety and Efficiency

Dec 19, 2023

Modern elevators have come a long way since the old systems of the past. Newer options include regenerative drives that capture and store extra energy for later usage. They’re also much more affordable to operate and require less maintenance.

However, it’s just as important that newer designs consider safety precautions. Although there is no international standard when it comes to safety, there is an elevator code in most countries that contractors and manufacturers must abide by.

Here’s why that code is so important for elevator safety in both residential and commercial buildings.

The Standard Elevator Code

If you live in the United States, then the safety code for a commercial elevator is ASME A17.1 This code was recently revised in 2022, and it serves as the basis for the design, construction, and maintenance of all elevators and similar equipment. That includes dumbwaiters and escalators.

The key concern of this code is to ensure that these elevators or lifts are safe and easy to use. Most of these efforts take place in the original construction, though there are guidelines on how to repair these systems and how often to perform maintenance.

Most recently, it was updated so that newer requirements must be met. These requirements cover the following:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Remote interaction operation
  • Test enable operation
  • Updates for flood protection
  • Alternate testing of emergency braking
  • Door position monitoring changes in Phase II

Failure to comply with your state and federal regulations can lead to a citation and an order to cease operation. The building owner will then have a specific timeframe in which to correct the identified issues before a re-inspection.

Legal action may be taken in the case of severe negligence or repeated violations.

Key Safety Components

Protecting passengers on elevators means incorporating various safety measures and features.

An emergency stop button is one of the most basic, and it allows passengers to halt the elevator if there is an emergency. This can help prevent accidents as well as stop the elevator if there is a malfunction.

The stop button works hand in hand with safety breaks that keep the elevator from free-falling or moving too quickly. Overload sensors also detect if the elevator has too much weight inside of it than is recommended or safe.

In the case of a power failure, emergency lighting systems should turn on to help emergency personnel to evacuate passengers. Fire alarm integration will disable the elevator during a fire and automatically open the doors during emergencies.

Modern electrical codes require the use of circuit breakers for improved overcurrent protection. This helps to prevent electrical fires and malfunctions.

How Codes Help With Elevator Operations

Elevator services must abide by their country’s elevator code to maximize not only passenger safety but also elevator efficiency. It allows for better elevator maintenance, more affordable pricing, and better integration with buildings.

Elevator Safety

The first and main reason why following the elevator code is important is for passenger safety. Visitors and employees in a building rely on the compartment functioning properly. Otherwise, there’s no easy to way get out of an elevator if it locks up.

Because of codes, this isn’t as much of an issue. Not only is a malfunction much less likely but there are options to get help, such as hitting the emergency button.


The second reason for elevator guidelines is to standardize how they’re built and maintained. All elevator services across the country deal with roughly the same types of elevators and systems. They could move hundreds of miles away and see similar ones because of these regulations.

In addition, standardized codes mean that it’s much easier to get replacement parts for your building’s elevator.

Legal Compliance

These official codes also help make sure that building owners and contractors comply with regulations when building their elevators. Cutting corners may result in a less safe product that endangers passengers. In a worst-case scenario, it could cause severe injury or death.


A hidden benefit of the elevator code is how much your building will save every year on repairs. An elevator built to the national standards will work much better for longer than one that ignores those standards.

If your elevator breaks down, then you’ll need to shut it off and send for elevator services. In some cases, you may need to install an entirely new system altogether.

On top of that, you’ll deal with fewer lawsuits and complaints from passengers who get trapped inside elevators and suffer emotional stress as a result.

More Confidence in the Systems

Finally, passengers will feel much more secure inside elevators that meet the codes and have been evaluated recently. If an elevator hasn’t been maintained or inspected within the past year, then that could mean there’s a malfunction waiting to happen.

Types of Elevator and Their Codes

It’s important to keep in mind that the elevator code differs based on the type of equipment that is used.

For example, hydraulic elevators are used for low-rise applications and can travel upwards of 200 feet per minute. These are supported by a piston at the bottom of the elevator powered by an electric motor.

Meanwhile, traction elevators are used for mid and high-rise applications with higher travel speeds. They use a counterweight to offset the weight of the car.

Furthermore, types like freight elevators have a much higher weight capacity than passenger models. They’re larger and require a more spacious elevator shaft.

Call a Local Expert

As a building owner or property manager, you may not know all the different nuances that go into the elevator code. You’re likely not familiar with every regulation, requirement, and restriction when it comes to how your elevator functions. That’s why you need to call in an expert to inspect your lift and make sure it runs well.

Express Elevator offers elevator services in the Milwaukee and Madison areas. Our experts provide 24/7 emergency elevator assistance, ongoing testing and corrections, and more. Contact us if you need a new expert to check out your elevator or if you have any questions.

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