I had just started work, years ago, when a colleague was killed in an accident in one of the lifts serving our civil service building. Several of my colleagues had to give evidence at the Coroner’s Court. The memory has stuck with me but happily, deaths are very rare and lifts are now covered by safety rules for their construction and installation. Nevertheless improvement is still needed and this mini casehistory shows how organisations – often much maligned for their snail-like pace and indifference to consumer detriment – can work together to achieve change for the benefit of consumers – in this case persons with disabilities.
Several NCF members are also members of ANEC, the European Consumer Voice in Standardisation. Although NCF members were not directly involved, ANEC launched in 2017 an appeal in CEN (the European Standards Organisation), against the standard EN 81-70 ‘Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts – Particular applications for passenger and goods passenger lift – Part 70: Accessibility to lifts for persons including persons with disability’ because of inadequate requirements for the colour contrast of buttons in the control panels of lifts. After almost three years of discussions, we are delighted a solution to the appeal has now been reached.
European Commission Rejects Standard
Due to an uncertain start in the discussions to resolve the appeal, despite the creation of a dedicated working group, ANEC wrote to the European Commission to express the view that EN 81-70 did not meet the essential health & safety requirements of the European Directive 2014/33/EU on lifts and the related Mandate to improve certain safety measures. With the support of the European Blind Union and European Disability Forum, ANEC opposed the standard being recognised as meeting the requirements of the Directive. Indeed, the European Commission decided to reject EN 81-70 as a Harmonised Standard because of several issues demonstrating non-compliance with the Mandate and the drafting rules for standards. Other lifts standards were also rejected.
The European Commission stressed that Harmonised Standards for lifts and safety components for lifts, while ensuring a high level of protection of health and safety of persons, must take into account usability and accessibility in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Solution Acceptable to All
We welcome that the discussions since have led to a solution acceptable to all parties and supported by the European Standards Organisation’s Technical Board. We welcome its instruction to the Technical Committee for Lifts to start an immediate revision of EN 81-70 in order to implement the technical agreement.