Are you ready for the new EN 81-40:2020 regulations?

By Bethany Ward on 4th April 2023

Stairlifts are an essential mobility aid for people who have difficulty climbing stairs, enabling them to move safely and comfortably between different building levels. EN 81-40 is a European standard that outlines stairlift safety requirements. The latest version, EN 81-40:2020, was published in July 2020 and will take effect on 15th April 2023. It introduces several significant changes to manufacturers’ and installers’ regulations.

This blog post will explore the key updates to the EN 81-40:2020 stairlift regulations and the implications for users and providers.

Increased focus on user safety

An increased focus on user safety is one of the most significant changes in the EN 81-40:2020 regulation. The new standard mandates that stairlifts must be designed to minimize the risk of accidents or injuries to the user, the operator, and other nearby people. All new stairlifts must be manufactured with seatbelt detection and interlocking armrests. The new standard also emphasizes the need for regular maintenance and inspections to ensure that the stairlifts continue to operate safely over time.

Updated requirements for emergencies

The EN 81-40:2020 standard includes several new requirements related to emergencies. For example, the new regulations mandate that stairlifts have an emergency stop button that is easily accessible to the user in case of an emergency. Manufacturers should also ensure that stairlifts can be fitted with an optional call device so that the stairlift user can contact someone to help them in an emergency. Additionally, the new standard requires that stairlifts have battery backup systems to ensure that they continue to operate in the event of a power outage.

Preparing for the changes

To fully prepare for the new regulations we reccomend you follow the six steps below:

  • Understand the changes: The new EN 81-40:2020 regulations introduce several changes to the existing standards for stairlifts. It is important to understand these changes thoroughly to ensure that your products comply with the new requirements. Read more here.
  • Review your existing products: Review your existing products to ensure that they meet the updated safety standards. If any modifications are needed, take steps to implement them.
  • Train your staff: Ensure that your staff are trained on the new regulations and the changes that have been made. This will enable them to communicate effectively with your customers about the updated safety standards.
  • Update your marketing materials: Update your marketing materials to reflect the new regulations and the changes that have been made. This will help you to communicate effectively with your customers about the updated safety standards.
  • Work with a reputable manufacturer: Ensure that your products meet the new regulations by working with a reputable manufacturer. This will provide assurance to your customers that your stairlifts are safe and compliant. You can rest assured that both the Flow X and HomeGlide stairlift from Access BDD meet the EN 81-40:2020 standards.
  • Stay informed: Stay up to date with any further changes to the regulations, and make any necessary adjustments to your products and processes as needed.

Access BDD partner’s response to the updates

Andrew Warbrick, Managing Director of Access BDD, spoke to THIIS Magazine about how partners are responding to the changes. 

“Here at Access BDD, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of the stairlift industry and have ensured all our products fully comply with the new regulations and have trained our staff so they are fully educated on all elements of the new regulations and what they mean for end users and our business partners. I think the extra features of the stairlifts will require a little more explanation from our partners when they are talking to customers and handing over the product to the end user, but I don’t see this as an obstacle. For some, there has been some confusion on how to interpret the regulations correctly, but I am confident this will become clear in time.

For end users, there may be some cost implications, but a greater level of reassurance on the safety of stairlifts balances these. The regulations are designed with the users’ safety and well-being in mind, so the impact has to be positive for all concerned. These new regulations are all based on improving safety and security, and the recently launched HomeGlide design has pivoted nicely into this new reality. Although some end users struggle with safety belts, the new HomeGlide has stabilized the seatbelt socket within the chair’s framework, making it easier to negotiate.

The call system has also been a triumph of design, nicely integrating into the chair armrest, allowing easy access to outside help. Rather than resting on its laurels, Access BDD has always been ahead of the competition in design and functionality. Integrating new features has always felt designed rather than an afterthought. The Access BDD product range feels like the standard other manufacturers aspire to. However, I think that, in general, most of the feedback we have received has been very positive. I certainly think everyone agrees that anything designed to improve the user’s safety is a good thing. When speaking to our business partners, some have expressed confusion on how to interpret the regulations and, in turn, concern about the responsibility this puts on them.” explained Andrew.

Gary Tidman of Only Lifts Limited, one of Access BDD’s UK business partners, explained how he has responded to regulations. 

“The benefit of compelling end-users to wear their safety belts is a sensible move, especially where forgetfulness can sometimes be an issue. An integrated communication device built into the stairlift will take safety and security to another level, especially for those without a telecare system. Ultimately these design changes should help re-assure the end-user and those that worry about them, such as relatives or friends who can’t always be there. These technologies can make one of the safest types of lift design even safer and instill confidence when moving from one level to another”.

“Looking to the future, here at Access BDD we have often thought about the need for some qualification or method of assessment for people who are selling stairlifts to ensure they correctly assess the end user and situation, so the best solution is provided with the safety and comfort of the end user in mind. Whether the best place for this is in EN 81-40 is open to debate, but I think it’s an area that deserves more attention” concluded Andrew.

In conclusion, the updated EN 81-40:2020 stairlift regulations have introduced several important changes to improve user safety, accessibility, and emergency preparedness. These changes will help to ensure that stairlifts remain a safe and reliable mobility aid for people with limited mobility. Manufacturers and installers of stairlifts must comply with these regulations to ensure that their products meet the required safety standards. Users of stairlifts should also familiarize themselves with these regulations to ensure that they are using their stairlift safely and correctly.