Lift Use – Social Distancing post COVID-19 Lockdown

How many people can you get in a lift with social distancing?

Most lifts follow standard sizes. Lift capacity which is the maximum number of person/kg they are rated for. And, the actual internal car size. The following list shows some of these standard lift capacities along with their internal car width and depth, measured in metres.

  • 8 person – 1.1 x 1.4
  • 13 person – 1.6 x 1.4
  • 17 person – 2 x 1.4
  • 21 person – 2 x 1.6

With the larger lift cars that are 2 metres wide it would be possible to confirm to 2 m social distance guidelines with one person in each corner. However, for any lift cars that are smaller, then strictly speaking they could only be used by one person.

Social Distancing in Lifs

The photo above shows a lift that has a capacity of thirteen persons and car size of 1.6 m wide by 1.4 m deep. Whilst not Adhering to the 2 m rule, or even possibly a 1 m rule, the passengers are facing away from each other and this limits possible virus droplet transmission. Furthermore, the capacity is now four persons not the previously mentioned one person. Not quite thirteen persons, the rated capacity, but a significant improvement.

Any particularly measures such as indicated above, and that do not strictly comply with the 2 m rule, should be correctly risk assessed and may or may not be combined with other risk reduction methods.

What is the impact of the capacity reduction of lifts?

In low rise buildings with quite small numbers of occupants, then possible not that great. Most people can take the stairs over a few floors and the lift(s) can be kept for those the really need them.

Other scenarios such more densely occupied office buildings or residential buildings that are more than a few floors high, then the lift capacity reduction is likely to prove problematic.

These building were designed along with the lifts to provide adequate service levels to the occupants. Reducing that capacity drastically will have a severe detrimental impact.

What can be done?

Firstly, one needs to understand what number or passengers the lift(s) can actually handle.

How may persons can be in lift at the same time?

We know that due to social distancing the lift capacity has been reduced considerably but what is the impact of this reduction on the overall handling capacity of the lift(s) in the building?

This can be done by undertaking a lift traffic analysis. The outcome of this forms the basis for planning.

Are there any mitigating measures that can be considered?

Fortunately, there are many, but which measures are implemented will depend on the characteristics of the building and lift(s) as well as the number and work pattern of the occupants of the building.

For example:

  • Stagger arrival and departure times (working hours)
  • Restrict use of lifts to over a defined number of floors
  • For larger buildings, implement one-way systems
  • Re-locate occupants if possible, from higher up a building to lower down it – consider this may be a temporary measure.

Where do I go from here?

We would suggest as a starting point a COVID-19 Vertical Transportation Review. This is a service that reviews the circumstances in your particular building(s). Invariably it involves undertaking a traffic analysis to understand the reduced operating capacity of the lifts. The analysis will also include the escalators where installed.

We can then assist with coming up with a plan that works for your buildings and your occupants, recommending measures that can be taken to lessen the impact whilst always reducing the risk of the spread of this virus.

Our COVID-19 Services page provides more details on the related services we offer.

Covid-19 Services for Lifts and Escalators

Please follow the links below to related articles in our Topics section.

Lifts and Escalators, can they be kept COVID-19 free?

Escalator Use and the Corona virus

Please get in touch via phone or email or through our contact form and we will be happy to assist.