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Wheelchair lift guidelines


What is an inclined or vertical wheelchair platform lift?
These are devices that are designed for providing those in wheelchairs, or persons with other mobility impairments, with a way of getting from one level in a building to another. These are not traditional elevators with enclosed cabs operating in an enclosed hoistway (shaft).


How are they different from a traditional elevator?
An inclined wheelchair platform lift goes up on an angle, usually from one floor to the next. A vertical wheelchair platform lift runs vertically from one level to another to a maximum vertical travel of 14 feet. Both types of units are limited to a maximum capacity of 750 pounds and no more than 18 square feet of net floor space. Equipment that exceeds these limits is required to meet more stringent safety standards.


Why the limitations?
These units are not designed with the same safety systems that are required for a traditional elevator. They are not designed to handle freight, furniture, office supplies or other non-pedestrian uses.


Do they meet all national and state codes?
This type of equipment requires a permit for installation and will be reviewed and inspected to assure all code requirements are met.


Do inclined and vertical wheelchair platform lifts meet accessibility requirements?
Inclined and vertical wheelchair platform lifts are usually not allowed in new construction where an accessible route is required. However, accessibility is not always required. The local building official can help determine whether accessibility is required. An inclined or vertical wheelchair platform lift is allowed in limited cases and where access is not required in new construction. Inclined and vertical wheelchair platform lifts are allowed in alterations to existing buildings.


Do inclined stairway chairlifts meet code requirements in Minnesota?
Inclined Stairway Chairlifts provide a more limited means of access than wheelchair platform lifts. Inclined stairway chairlifts are allowed for private residence use only, or within individual dwelling units.


What is penetration of a floor and is it allowed in Minnesota?
Penetration is going from one level to another through an opening in the floor. Lifts that penetrate a floor have specific design criteria for the runway, emergency signaling devices are required and the lift must be provided with standby power.


Can a vertical wheelchair platform lift have more than an upper and lower entry level?
Yes. The number of stops is not limited.


Can a vertical wheelchair lift have both hoistway doors on the same side?
The most efficient and effective traffic pattern is in one end and out the other. However, when this is not the case, automatic doors are required to assist in entering and exiting the lift.


Could we install a small elevator?
Yes. Limited-use and limited-application elevators can be installed in existing buildings. For new construction, the enforcing authority* must approve the installation.


Are limited-use/limited-application elevators less expensive than conventional elevators?
Usually. Because of smaller platform size and limited travel, limited-use/limited- application elevators are normally less expensive both for the elevator and construction cost. However, add-ons and options should be considered carefully.


Who can help us decide what equipment will fit our needs and answer questions to assure our needs will be met?
State elevator inspection personnel, city elevator inspection personnel (St. Paul and Minneapolis), equipment vendors and accessibility advocates can provide assistance. City building inspectors and local fire marshals can provide guidance on accessibility and safe entry and exit requirements, as well as building construction issues.


What permits and inspections will we need to install this equipment?
Building, electrical and elevator installation permits will most likely be needed. Each of these will require a separate permit and inspection fee, inspection by the relevant agency and review of plans and drawings.


Who inspects this equipment?
The cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis inspect elevators in their jurisdiction. The state of Minnesota, Department of Labor and Industry, Elevator Safety section, inspects elevators and related equipment in all other areas of the state.


Are churches and private organizations exempt From this inspection?
No. Contact the enforcing authority* for additional information.


Who can I call if I have a problem, need to get a referral to the proper organization, or if I receive conflicting information?
*Enforcing Authority:
Minneapolis - Minneapolis Elevator Inspections. The number is (612) 673-5839
St. Paul - Building Inspections of St. Paul. The number is (651) 266-9010
All other areas - Department of Labor and Industry, Construction Codes and Licensing, Elevator Safety (651)284-5012,


NOTE: These guidelines are presented for clarification and are not intended to restate the requirements of law or code. Installations of elevators and related equipment, in Minnesota are required to be inspected for compliance with all appropriate laws and codes relating to the safety of the installed equipment.

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