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Elevator Codes 101: How Owners and Contractors Navigate This Complex Landscape

Most passengers give little thought to the operation of elevators. The doors open, the passenger steps on, the doors reopen on the desired floor and the passenger exits. But behind the control panels and in the hoist ways, there are complex systems of cables, counterweights, and equipment – and even more complex systems of elevator codes.

Regulations vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and noncompliance can be costly and dangerous. Thus, it is critical that building owners and contractors work with a partner who can help them navigate this complicated terrain.

What are “Harmonized” Solutions?

In Canada, there is no single overarching legislative body responsible for elevator safety. Each jurisdiction has its own mandates, though there is an exception with government-owned buildings, which fall under the federal umbrella. For all other buildings, regulations vary depending on the jurisdiction.

However, many jurisdictions have adopted ASME 17.1/CSA B44.


ASME: American Society of Mechanical Engineers. ASME is an international nonprofit organization that develops technical standards for everything from plumbing fixtures to elevators. The standards ASME subject matter experts develop are not mandatory but are heavily used by jurisdictions across the United States.

CSA Group: Canadian Standards Association. CSA Group is a nonprofit organization that develops standards in 57 areas. It is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada, which promotes “efficient and effective standardization” across the country.

The “harmonized binational” ASME 17.1/CSA B44 provides a single elevator safety code for North America. But it’s not quite that simple: as mentioned, these standards are not mandatory. While most jurisdictions do adhere to ASME 17.1/CSA B44, they often do not follow the same version.

Changes to Elevator Code: Which Standards Do Owners Need to Know?

Elevator codes changes approximately every three years, but some jurisdictions are slower to adopt new standards than others – if they choose to at all. For instance in the year 2016, Ontario uses the 2010 edition, British Columbia the 2007 edition, and Saskatchewan the 2000 edition. They also use the harmonized standard in conjunction with their own jurisdictional building codes, provincial OSHA requirements, and other regulations.

Frequent changes, varying jurisdictional regulations, and the highly technical nature of elevators themselves combine to create a complicated safety and compliance landscape. Before embarking on any installation or upgrade, owners and contractors should contact their jurisdictional authority and determine what codes apply to their project.

Trusted elevator contractors and maintenance companies have in-depth knowledge of codes and standards; they can help owners ensure that their elevators run legally, efficiently, and above all, safely. Owners and contractors who need a little assistance navigating this complicated compliance landscape should turn to a quality, professional elevator maintenance company.

Questions? Call us anytime. 1-844-GO-4-ABCO