Over recent years, Liftinstituut received the necessary accident reports of children getting trapped in glass lift doors, as their little hands were dragged along by the slip-resistant glass. This is urging for a warning for lift users and for lift owners to take extra safety precautions. Information officer Koos van Lindenberg: “The number of accidents reported to Liftinstituut is not indicative. In real life, this number is much higher. This is why we advise parents to see to it that their children do not put their hands on the glass lift doors. And we urge glass lift owners to take additional precautions where necessary.”
Glass is getting popular
Glass lifts are becoming more and more popular, not only because they are an attractive feature within a building or offer spectacular views, but also because the transparency makes lift users feel safe. This is why they are used in public locations in particular, such as stations, shopping centres and multi-storey car parks. These are also the places which are visited by parents with small children.
Occasional serious injury
During a lift ride, many children are inclined to put their hands on the glass lift doors. This way they can look down even further. When the doors subsequently open automatically, their hands may slide along between the panels. Result: trapping and, sometimes, serious injury. Data from a store chain held by Liftinstituut has shown that, yearly, forty children get trapped in glass lift doors across their stores in Europe. Although injury has remained limited to date, Van Lindenberg believes these are worrisome figures. “Forty children, in one European store chain alone.”
Distraction for parents
Van Lindenberg indicates that the increase in the risk of getting hands trapped may be due to having distracting situations around the lift. “For example, a specific incident was reported to Liftinstituut where special offers were placed immediately next to the glass lift. When passing, parents focussed their attention on the special offers while their children were having a look at the lift. This led to numerous cases of hands getting trapped. It would be good if lift maintenance companies made store owners aware of the risks.”
Use of detection still limited
In view of the increase in the number of accidents, a solution has been developed within the lift industry for the prevention of getting trapped in glass lift doors, often based on electronic detection. However, only limited use is being made of this so far. Therefore, Liftinstituut calls on lift owners to investigate – together with their lift supplier – which technical solutions are achievable.
Protection from lift industry for trapping little hands between glass doors
- Meiler has a laser system that records when a little hand is about to get trapped. This will cause the door movement to stop abruptly, i.e. at the very last moment. The laser is fitted above the doors (cage and/or shaft door) in the corner where the trapping may occur.
- Lightspeed, represented by Mulder Montage from Alphen aan den Rijn in the Netherlands, uses the Lightspeed system for the prevention of little hands getting trapped. In the improved version, the glass filament is not only in the door edge, but also in the fixing of the door panel, in the frame with the guide rollers. This will cause the door movement to come to a halt as soon as a child puts its hands on the door while the door is closing. The system is therefore triggered earlier than in the old Lightspeed system and also earlier than in Meiler's new system.
- Cedes has developed a radar which detects movements near the closing lift door which causes the door to reopen. This is a system that replaces a sensor frame. This system is simple to fit and also offers the option of counting the number of passengers getting into the lift. It comes in a 2D version (TOF gard/Mini), 3D version (TOFgard3D) and count version (TOFgard/Counting).
- Memco, as an alternative for Cedes's comparable system, has a radar which detects movements in front of lift doors. It has a cone-shaped beam which is said to pull back a little less quickly when the door closes than other radar protection systems.
Solutions for the prevention of injury by glass lift doors, prescribed by standardisation
In older lifts standards EN 81-1 and 2 from 1986, the hazard of glass doors was not covered. In the majority of older lifts (before 1998), no precautions were provided either for the prevention of little hands getting trapped when the lift doors automatically slide open. After all, this is not a requirement.
From harmonised standards EN 81-1 and 2 from 1998 onwards, requirements were incorporated in order to reduce the risk of little hands getting trapped when glass lift doors slide open. Lifts commissioned from 1 July 1999 onwards must comply with the following requirements from this standard:
188.8.131.52 In order to prevent that little hands get trapped, automatically and mechanically driven horizontal sliding doors made from glass wider than 150mm* must be provided with facilities that minimise this risk, such as:
- a) reducing the friction rate between hands and glass;
- b) providing opaqueness to glass up to a height of 1.10m;
- c) detecting the presence of fingers; or
- d) other comparable methods.
* see standard section 7.6.2
In respect of option d), lift manufacturers invented various solutions over the years, such as:
- restricting gaps around glass doors to a maximum of 3mm (around metal doors, a maximum of 10mm is permitted);
- fitting especially formed profiles in the gap between the doors and the frame so that the gaps are reduced and the risk of getting trapped in the profile is diverted.
The successor of standard EN 81-20, standard EN 81-20, prescribes the following solution in section 184.108.40.206.2.1:
In order to prevent that little hands get trapped, automatically and mechanically driven horizontal sliding doors made from glass wider than 150mm* must be provided with facilities that minimise this risk, by:
- 1) making the glass opaque on the user's side, by using either opaque glass or by applying an opaque coating up to a height of at least 1.10m, or
- 2) detecting the presence of fingers up to a height of at least 1.60m above the threshold and stopping the opening movement of the door, or
- 3) restricting the gap between the door panels and the frame to a maximum of 4mm up to a height of at least 1.60m above the threshold. With wear and tear, this value may increase to 5mm.
- Indents (glass framing etc.) may not exceed 1mm and must be included in the 4mm gap. The maximum radius of the outer edge of the frame bordering on the door panel may not exceed 4mm.
* see standard section 220.127.116.11
The option given in EN 81-1 and 2 for applying a coating to the glass to reduce the friction rate has been removed from EN 81-20 as this solution proved to work only very temporarily, i.e. until the window cleaner's next visit.