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Building regulations: key guidance for lifts

Here is a handy overview of the key acts, regulations, and standards for lift companies Northern Ireland Building regulations. that outline best practices around lifts - ensuring that any commercial/public building is accessible and efficient when moving people.



There are three main items that outline the best practice for making a commercial/public building accessible, namely;

The legal framework, the Equality Act  The building regulations, Part M Vol.1 & Vol.2 and Part B or Section 4 of the Technical Handbook (Scottish Part M Equivalent) The design guidance, the recently updated British Standard BS 8300: 2018 - Part 1 & 2.

These all help to outline the legal requirements, what lift to consider in a new building, and the preference and guidance on ensuring an accessible lift. The later two highlight specific lift requirements and preferences between the different types of passenger moving lifts.




1. Equality Act 2010.. the legal bit


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Equality Act 2010 (formerly DDA)


Sometimes, a physical feature of a building (or other premises) can make it more difficult for a person with impaired mobility to access. The Equality Act 2010 (formerly DDA) states that if you place someone at a substantial disadvantage, you have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments. This is where a lift can play a part.


It's possible to install one or more disabled access lifts in most buildings that have two or more floors, or to provide a ramp or step lift where there is a short flight of stairs. Any lift adds value to the commercial property it's placed in by speeding up the movement of people up and down the building and helps the building owner meet the requirements of the Act



For both new and existing buildings we look to Building  Regulations to give instruction on the best lift selection and the specific requirements to comply and the guidance of BS 8300:2018 Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment to selecting and creating an accessible lift.

2a. Part M & Part B ... the regulations in England & Wales

The Building Regulations, Approved Document M (Part M) gives direction on enabling a public access building to conform to the Equality Act. This public access regs document states that reasonable provision must be made for people to gain access to and use the building's facilities.


Fire Safety: Approved Document B is the building regulation in England which covers all fire safety matters within and around buildings as well as further detail on firefighting and evacuation passenger lifts.


In summary, Part M states that the preferred solution to disabled access is a passenger lift, with the number of lifts depending upon the application, but it also recognises that it may not always be possible for a building to accommodate one so proposes the next best alternatives, namely platform lift and wheelchair platform stairlift.2b. Section 4.2 ... the regulations in Scotland

Like it's English counterpart, Section 4.2 gives direction on enabling a public access building to conform to the Equality Act. Most of the requirements of Section 4.2 are identical or closely similar to Part M. However, the platform size requirements do differ with the Scotland document, requiring larger minimum sizes for both low and medium-rise platform lifts.

3. BS 8300:2018... the design guidance

The new British Standard BS 8300: 2018 (Part 1 and 2) looks at the design of new buildings and their ability to create an inclusive environment.  Both parts of BS 8300 supersede the 2009 version of this standard, which has been withdrawn.

This revised code of practice aims to give the information needed to create an inclusive environment from the outset of a project. Part 1 primarily covers access in and around the external environment and the approaches to buildings. Part 2 provides guidance on access within buildings, including the facilities that should be provided inside buildings.

The act also states that that building design must ensure that effective barriers against smoke and fire are provided, without impeding access for all. Moreover, in offering best-practice recommendations, this standard explains how architectural design and the built environment can help disabled people to make the most of their surroundings. This standard strongly recommends that in multi-story buildings, at least one lift (of sufficient size) must be made accessible to wheelchair users.


An accessible lift will need to meet the following criteria:

Can be found easily Is large enough for its intended use Leaves space outside to maneuver Is fitted with lift controls that are easily found and identifiable Is fitted with visual and audible signals Has a clear entrance of suitable width Is fitted with a reasonable level of lighting in the car and on all landings Is accurate on stopping to ensure ease of entry/exit

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