News & Views

22nd May 2020

A win for common sense, New guidance for construction lift use

In a welcome move by SWA, guidance on the use of construction lifts and hoists has been amended due to strong lobbying from NECA and other trade associations. The previous guidance would have only allowed one person to travel in a lift at a time which would have reduced productivity on some sites to almost a complete stop. The changes to the guidance now allow for a sensible, common-sense approach which is more practical for the benefit of both workers and employers.

There is no longer a requirement to provide 4 square metres of space per person in lifts, however, you must still ensure, as far as you reasonably can, that people maintain physical distancing in lifts and lift waiting areas. SWA recommends that safe use of lifts is best achieved through a combination of measures, determined in consultation with workers, including those that control the number of people needing to use a lift at any one time. This includes:

  • reducing the number of workers arriving and leaving buildings and using lifts in peak periods, where possible (e.g. stagger start and finish times for workers by 10-15 minutes per team or group)
  • maintaining working from home arrangements for some staff (where this works for both you and your workers). This could include splitting the workforce into teams with alternating days in the workplace (e.g rotate teams so they are one week in the office and the other week at home), and
  • changing lift programming to facilitate the more efficient flow of users – e.g. decrease the time that doors stay open on each floor (where safe to do so) or where there are multiple lifts, assign specific lifts to certain floors based on demand (e.g. lift A to service floors 1-5, lift B to service floors 6-8 etc).


Where workers and others use lifts it is still important that they physically distance themselves to the extent possible when waiting for a lift and when in the lift. You must do what you reasonably can to ensure crowding in and around lifts does not occur. Within lifts:

  • users of lifts must maintain physical distancing, to the extent possible. Lifts must not be overcrowded and users should avoid touching other users.
  • workers must practice good hygiene in lifts. If they do need to cough or sneeze during a journey they must do so into their arm or a clean tissue.
  • place signage in the lift reminding workers and others to practice good hygiene by washing their hands, or where this is not possible, using appropriate hand sanitiser, after exiting the lift, particularly if they touched lift buttons, rails or doors – see also our information on hygiene
  • implement regular cleaning of high touchpoints such as lift buttons and railings – see also our information on cleaning.


The full guidance can be found here

For more information or assistance, contact the WHS Team on 1300 361 099, or email