Passenger elevators - balancing technology and safety | LiftExpo Poland

Latest technologies and the obligation to ensure a sense of safety for elevator users are the current challenges of the dynamically developing elevator industry. Additionally, like in many other specialized fields, there is a lack of qualified personnel. Tadeusz Popielas, Secretary General of the Polish Association of Lift Manufacturers, talks to us about the current situation and future prospects of this industry.


The nightmare of many people is the sudden entrapment in an elevator. Why does this sometimes happen? What is the cause of such situations, how can they be prevented, and what should be done if it occurs?


There can be many reasons for being trapped in a passenger elevator, commonly referred to as a lift. The most common causes include controller malfunctions, activation of safety devices, damage resulting from improper use and vandalism, as well as the natural wear and tear of components. A significant number of cases of passengers being trapped are related to power supply failures and disturbances. Statistically, most of these situations occur in the first year of operation.

In case of being trapped in an elevator, under no circumstances should one attempt to escape on their own. To call for help, press the alarm button. If the cabin is equipped with a two-way communication system, this will connect with rescue services, usually the call center of the elevator maintenance company, sometimes also local technical services or building security. Most old elevators lack such communication means. An always effective alternative is to use a mobile phone. Current contact numbers for maintenance services should always be displayed in the cabin. After calling for help, one should calmly wait for the arrival of a technician who will safely release the trapped individuals without damaging the elevator. Calling the fire brigade often leads to their destruction.


W jaki sposób powinien przebiegać profesjonalny audyt bezpieczeństwa


How to comprehensively ensure the safety of elevator users and the building itself?


Each elevator is delivered by the manufacturer with an operation manual. The owner or manager of the facility, i.e., the operator, should operate the elevator according to this manual and use it as intended.

The operator is obligated to ensure professional and proper maintenance of the elevators and to care for their maintenance during the periods specified by this manual. The requirements associated with this are defined by the Regulation of the Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology dated May 21, 2019, on the method and procedure for verifying the qualifications required for the operation and maintenance of technical devices and the procedure for extending the validity of qualification certificates. Maintenance inspections should be performed at least within the timeframes specified in the annex to the Regulation of the Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology dated October 30, 2017 (Journal of Laws 2018, item 2176). Maintenance inspections should be performed within the timeframes and scopes specified in the operation manual. If these timeframes are not specified or the manual is missing, maintenance inspections should be performed at least once every 30 days.

The operator should establish and keep a maintenance log for each device, maintained by the technician, in which the performed activities are recorded.

The technical supervision unit performs an annual inspection of the elevator. The “green UDT sticker” placed on the device indicates that it is under technical supervision but does not “automatically” authorize its operation. The document that legally allows the operation of the device is a positive administrative decision permitting its operation.

It should be emphasized that in the event of dangerous damage or accidents related to the operation of the technical device, the nearest branch of UDT must be notified immediately.


How should a professional safety audit be conducted?


Currently, we are talking about an audit regarding safety and accessibility. In 2003, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) added a key standard for the safety of existing lifts, PN EN 81-80:2003 – the “SNEL” (Safety Norm for Existing Lifts), to its well-known European standard for new lifts, EN 81-1/2 (Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts – Part 1: Electric lifts; Part 2: Hydraulic lifts).

This standard was the result of many years of work by engaged safety experts from the lift industry, government agencies, external control units, consumer organizations, and insurance companies.

A few years ago, the main lift standard PN EN 81-1/2 was replaced by the standard PN EN 81-20/50. The standard PN EN 81-80:2003 was also updated.

The current standard PN EN 81-80:2019 reduces the safety gaps of existing lifts and brings the safety level closer to that defined by PN EN 81-20/50 for new lifts introduced to the market.

The standard PN EN 81-80:2019 (Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts – Existing lifts – Part 80: Rules for the improvement of safety of existing passenger and goods lifts) categorizes various hazards and dangerous situations, each analyzed through a risk assessment. It then lists corrective actions to gradually improve safety.

According to the standard PN EN 81-80:2003, an elevator should be audited against a checklist of 74 hazards, the revised standard – PN EN 81-80:2019 contains 85 hazards, some even covering lifts introduced to the market in accordance with the lift directive 95/16/EC with CE marking.

The identification of a hazard or dangerous situation can be carried out as part of any periodic inspection or special examination of the installation, but only technically competent and properly trained persons should be allowed to conduct these tests. This is subject to national legislation and regulations.

After identifying hazards associated with the installation (within this proactive assessment or safety audit), improvements can – if necessary – be implemented through “step by step” modernization. It is worth considering its natural connection with any carried-out modernization. Additionally, ongoing maintenance and repair processes are essential.

The conducted modernizations aim to adapt elevators to the requirements of the lift directive 2014/33/EU.

When modernizing lifts, it is necessary to keep in mind the REGULATION OF THE MINISTER OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND TECHNOLOGY dated October 30, 2018, on the conditions of technical supervision in terms of operation, repair, and modernization of close-transport devices (Journal of Laws 2018, November 21, 2018, item 2176) – it results in the obligation to determine the lifespan for existing lifts and assess the technical condition (special inspection) after exceeding the lifespan.

For formal reasons, the documentation of the lift modernization must be agreed upon with the Office of Technical Inspection.

The assessment of the safety and accessibility of a lift can be carried out in accordance with the standards:

Lift modernization requires agreement with the technical inspection unit. The norms to be considered depend on its scope. One can introduce:

What are the latest technologies in the industry? What are their pros and cons?


This is a very broad topic. A significant change can be considered the introduction of so-called machine-room-less lifts or, slightly later, belts instead of ropes. We also observe continuous technical progress in the applied construction solutions. The lift industry uses advanced technologies such as Industry 4.0 solutions (IoT), virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and Big Data.

It is important to ensure cybersecurity. The mentioned solutions aim to constantly improve the safety, accessibility, and energy efficiency of lifts.


Czy dźwigi hydrauliczne mają wciąż jeszcze swoje zastosowanie w nieruchomościach komercyjnych Jakie są ich zalety

Do hydraulic lifts still have their application in commercial properties? What are their advantages?


The share of hydraulic lifts in the total number of installed lifts is steadily decreasing and currently in Poland is below 10%. They find application in facilities that require large lifting capacities, e.g., several tons (we also accept slower travel speeds). These lifts can be used to transport vehicles (e.g., cars, forklift trucks) in garages, warehouses, or production halls. Hydraulic drive is very quiet and does not generate vibrations, but from time to time, it requires oil replacement, which is expensive.


What major problems do you see in the industry as an association? What will you focus on in your future activities?


The lift industry is developing very dynamically. Currently, the main problem is the lack of qualified personnel, which is why the Polish Association of Lift Manufacturers runs a vocational training program for lift device technicians in cooperation with several technical schools in Poland. Due to the specificity of the industry, we have focused on large centers such as Warsaw, Łódź, Katowice, Trójmiasto, and Poznań.

However, we still have an urgent need to modernize over 20,000 lifts from the years 1970 – 1990, whose safety level significantly differs from current solutions. The modernization process of these lifts has been supported by the state budget for several years in the form of the Accessibility Fund, which our Association also contributed to creating.