ResearchReducing Covid-19 transmission at work: Focus on lifts & escalators is key – says BCO

New lift and escalator guidance for commercial office space offers essential advice for re-occupation.
Content Team4 months ago4 min

New guidance for the safe use of escalators and lifts has been launched as the country begins to return to the office.

Published by the British Council for Offices (BCO), the guidance emphasises the importance of social distancing and strict hygiene measures. The safe use of lifts and escalators has been a priority for the industry, with 90%1. of decision-makers and influencers in the commercial office sector saying they were worried about their safe use.

For lifts, the advice includes reducing the amount of time that doors stay open, implementing queue controls, marking where users should stand and upgrading controls to make them touchless.

Workers using escalators can also expect to be told where to stand by markings, and to be guided by upgraded anti-microbial handrails. The guidance suggests that masks should be worn, particularly in lifts, and that hand sanitising stations should be provided at both entry and exits points for lifts and escalators.

To mitigate against future pandemics, the paper also suggests more substantial design changes, which include fitting wide doors to lifts and improving their ventilation.

Richard Kauntze, British Council for Offices, said: “It’s vital that we think carefully about all of the different ways we need to change office life to protect people. Lifts and escalators are communal spaces – people are cramped together in lifts, escalator handrails can be touched by hundreds of hands a day – meaning they can present a real risk of virus transmission. This guidance helps make them safe and helps encourage employees back to the workplace.”

PwC is one of the organisations implementing the new guidance. Chris Richmond, Head of Real Estate at PwC commented: “Lifts and escalators provide specific challenges and I applaud this latest BCO guidance that provides an insightful, practical and considered view for occupiers and their advisers too. We will be paying close attention to its findings and recommendations.”

The guidance, titled ‘Thoughts on lift and escalator design and operation after Covid-19’ can be downloaded here.

For more content on the return to work post-Covid-19, click here


1.Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (2020), Working Safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Content Team

Work in Mind is a content platform designed to give a voice to thinkers, businesses, journalists and regulatory bodies in the field of healthy buildings.

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