Stair lifts and inclined platform lifts can move one person at a time up or down a staircase either in a seat or in a wheelchair.
Stair lifts or inclined platform lifts should not be installed in public buildings except in exceptional circumstances.
A stair lift (sometimes referred to as a chair lift or stair climber) is a specially designed seat that runs on a fixed rail up and down a staircase. The seat can fold against the wall when not in use.
An inclined platform lift is a specially designed platform that runs on a fixed rail up and down a staircase to carry a wheelchair. The platform can fold against the wall when not in use.
Clear instructions on using the stair lift or inclined platform lift need to be provided. Sometimes these lifts are locked to prevent unauthorised use. The requirement for a key will limit its availability and may make its use difficult or impossible.
When in the lowered position, the platform or seat should be easy to access and use.
The controls often require the user to press continuously to operate the lift. Some users may not be able to maintain pressure on a control button in order to create movement. In addition, there is often a delay between pressing the button and the lift moving which creates uncertainty.
Where the system operates over more than one flight, appropriate signage should be provided to indicate floor level.
Moving on or off a stair lift or inclined platform lift at the top of a flight of stairs is potentially dangerous unless adequate precautions are made to ensure user safety.
There is a possibility that building users may bump into the platform or catch their clothing on sharp edges when it is parked.
Due to its installation on a staircase, stair lifts and inclined platform lifts should only be used in buildings where assistance is available and preferably in sight.
In the event of a power or equipment failure, the lift must be able to return to a landing level. If it cannot, it may isolate the user and block the stairs (which may have means of escape considerations).
Stair lifts and inclined platform lift should not be used in public buildings unless access between the linked areas is essential and there is no other alternative method of vertical travel. They are not generally designed to be safe for use in evacuations.
- Stair lifts and inclined platform lifts should not be specified in new buildings but may be acceptable for limited use in a small existing building where it is not possible to install a passenger lift or vertical platform lift.
- Provide clear instructions on using the stair lift or inclined platform lift.
- Ensure the stair lift or inclined platform lift is available for use at all times without the need for a special device (for example, a key or card, keypad, voice, or other recognition) or assistance from building management.
- Ensure that the transfer space onto the seat or platform is in a safe location away from the top of the flight.
- Ensure stair lifts and inclined platform lifts do not encroach into the recommended clear width of the stair or compromises the safety of other building users.
- If a delay mechanism needs to be incorporated into control circuits for safety reasons, ensure that feedback identifies that an input has been registered.
- Ensure that when the unit is folded, all parts are recessed out of the circulation route and any exposed edges protected.
- Ensure a means of easily stopping the stair lift or platform lift and calling for help is readily available, and easy to understand and use.
- Ensure in the event of a power failure whilst in use, the user is able to be rescued and the unit folded to prevent obstructing the staircase.
- Ensure means of escape provisions are not compromised by the installation and use of the stair lift or inclined platform lift.
Building Code requirement
Building Code clause D2 Mechanical installations for access:
D2.3.1 Mechanical installations for access shall: (a) move people safely, and stop and hold as required for the normal use of the installation, for all loads up to and including 25% in excess of the rated load, b) not (produce excessive acceleration or deceleration
D2.3.2 Mechanical installations for access shall be provided with: (a) adequate control over normal use, to ensure people’s safety throughout any operation involving starting, stopping or changing the direction of travel, (c) adequate lighting and ventilation for both normal and emergency use,
D2.3.3 Mechanical installations for access shall, for emergency purposes, be provided with a means of: (a) calling outside help
D2.3.5 Mechanical installations on accessible routes shall: (a) where the passenger conveyor is manually controlled, provide: (i) controls which are easily identifiable and easy to use, (ii) adequate notification that the passenger conveyor has registered a summoning call,
D2.3.5 Mechanical installations on accessible routes shall: (d) have handrails within the passenger conveyor
Building Code clause F8 Signs:
F8.2 Signs must be provided in and about buildings to identify: (d) accessible routes and facilities for people with disabilities.