Although elevator code compliance and their seemingly never-ending list of requirements can be overwhelming, they are extremely important to the overall safety of your elevator system and your passengers. We want to make it easy for you to understand so that when it comes to your elevators, you have all of the necessary information and resources you need to be confident that you have a competent elevator contractor and your elevator is safe and code compliant.

History of Elevator Code

In 1921, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) developed uniform safety requirements for elevators and published the first edition of ASME A17. ASME continues to set the pace in the elevator/escalator industry and has released a series of national codes that we still use today (and in which are continuously updated to improve safety standards). The U.S. building transportation industry is regulated by state and, in some instances, by local Authorities Having Jurisdiction. Not all states and localities automatically adopt updated building and elevator codes. In fact, many states and localities require the Authority Having Jurisdiction over building and elevator safety to conduct an administrative rulemaking process to adopt an updated version of the code. As a result, many jurisdictions do not adopt new codes for long periods of time after their publication. The City of Chicago is currently enforcing ASME 17.1-2016 with some modifications and the State of Illinois is currently enforcing ASME 17.1-2013 which, by State law, is the minimum standard for every municipality.

Want to know more about what is required in your jurisdiction?
City of Chicago (linked to:
State of IL (linked to:
Learn More (linked to:

Accessibility Requirements (ADA)
In addition to ASME elevator safety and accessibility codes, there are also Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has minimum elevator requirements. ADA helps to ensure that passengers with disabilities have the same access to both elevator safety and usage. Many of these requirements come standard on all elevators, including audible signals used when an elevator arrives, the placement of braille or tactile buttons within accessible reach, and visual car lanterns that designate the car travel direction. Other important requirements are considered when the elevator is a required portion of the accessible route and means of egress in a building. Chief among these requirements are two-way communication systems provided in each elevator and the condition to provide standby power to the elevator system.

Safety Testing
Elevator safety tests and inspections are regularly performed to ensure that your elevator system is capable of meeting safety standards and expectations. Elevators have to have basic testing known as Category One (CAT 1) every 12 months and a more rigorous test known as Category 5 (CAT 5) every five years. If a test shows a relatively minor problem, the elevator contractor has 45 business days to fix the issue and must file an “affirmation of correction.” The paperwork for the inspections must also be filed within 45 days of the test and needs to be signed by the contractor, witnessing inspector and representative of the building. Heavy fines can be imposed if any of these regulations are not met.

Importance of Competence
Not only are elevator compliance codes extremely complicated, they’re also constantly being modified and updated. Property managers, building owners and board members alike should have a licensed and qualified contractor to ensure their elevator equipment is being properly maintained, tested and in compliance with the elevator code. More and more managers are finding themselves in a situation where they’re spending more money than they should on costly repairs or fines due to incompetent contractors and faulty maintenance. Make sure to choose a reputable company to avoid any unnecessary costs and stress.

Additional Resources
International Building Code (linked to:
National Electric Code (linked to: