While lift in multistoried buildings is a firsthand technology in the construction sector in the country, only 25 percent of the lifts installed in the country comply with the Indian standards.
The point is Bhutan does not even have a lift standard of its own.
Where the lifts are to be used frequently, the information on carrying capacity, environment, and rush hour/time in day, safety and designs are necessary. However, lifts in Bhutan are mostly installed without considering these requirements.
This has led to higher number of lift breakdown in some buildings and it concerns the safety of the users, according to the finding of a study conducted by the Bhutan Standards Bureau (BSB).
The study found that commercial buildings have complied better with safety requirements as prescribed by the BSB and International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
The safety of lift system can be met by conforming to standards which set the requirement on operation, maintenance and certification besides mandatory consideration to design and material quality. The study also compared the lift systems between the buildings of residential, commercial and government.
The Bhutan Building Rules 2002 requires the lift installed in building with more than 5 storeys. ISO standards on lift states different provisions for passenger and service lifts such as load capacity and speed. The standards also specifies on the need for competent personnel to provide information and instruction for usage and maintenance of lifts.
It was found that 9.4 percent of lift brands are unknown.
Commercial buildings, the study pointed out, had maximum percentage of lift (59.4 Percent) and better safety requirements than residential and government owned lift systems.
Commercial buildings have highest maintenance contract for the lifts varying from one to twelve months, while more than 50 percent of government buildings do not have maintenance contract.
The study also found that most of the lift owners in the country are unaware of standards and that there was lack of legislation on occupational safety and health.
According to the study, lifts in commercial buildings complied better with four basic requirements.
However, the study also comes with a disclaimer that lifts in residential and government buildings cannot be confirmed having poor safety comparing with commercial building because the sample representation from these two building is less as compared to commercial buildings.
As per the safety requirement of lifts 2010, scheduled maintenance has to be carried out to address all the risk associated hazards by the competent personnel.
The study found that 45 percent of lifts in government building were not maintained or repaired and are non-usable. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires the lifts to be inspected every 6 months.
It was also found that 75 percent of residential and 70.5 percent of commercial buildings in Bhutan have Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) with the suppliers. Government buildings have less percentage of AMC (28.5 percent) and has no technical personnel to maintain the lift.
The study also found that there were no certified O & M personnel for the lifts in Bhutan.
According to the standards, the frequency of inspection should be higher in commercial buildings used by greater number of people.
Commercial buildings have higher number of maintenance frequency (less than 3 months) compared with other buildings. This concerns the safety of users in buildings of residential and government buildings as maintenance frequency is low.
In-country technical personnel maintaining the lifts in some commercial and residential buildings were not certified by relevant authorities as required by the Global Essential Safety Requirements (2010).
Three fourth of lifts in the country are not user-friendly to visually impaired people.
A suitable battery-operated alarm system shall be installed to indicate the problems when being trapped inside as per the Building Code of Bhutan 2003. However, 41 percent of the total lifts have non-operational alarm.
The Bhutan standards, specifically the BTS 011-2003, mandates a fan and adequate ventilation with solid enclosed doors. The study found that 25 percent of total lift system in Bhutan has poor ventilation.
Although the survey did not inspect the fire resistance of lift materials, 47 percent of the lifts does not have fire extinguisher in place and no lift system in Bhutan has certification on display ensuring the safety and conformity to the standards.
THE ISO/TS 22559-2 provisions for a need to have patterned floor to enhance resistance to slip and some lifts are found not confirming to the requirement on pattered floor.
The Building Code of Bhutan, which mandates a lift for five-storied buildings and above, also states that the machine room of the lifts should properly enclosed, facilitated with lamp, should be fire proof.
“However most building have exposed machine room and some machine rooms were used for un-intended purpose,” the study stated.
“The lack of policy and liberal regulation regarding lift design and standards in Bhutan has resulted the building owners installing lift of their choice unlike European nations having policy and regulation about the lift design standards and directives which should be complied by the building owner,” the study pointed out.
Therefore, the survey suggested for a national standards on lifts meeting global essential safety requirements.
BSB also recommended to have Bhutan standards on safety requirements of lift and technical regulation besides conducting risk assessment.
The Bureau also suggested imposing certification of lift products before installation and routine monitoring of the life systems.