Back to the articles

Regulatory Standards, Controls and Audits - Episode 2: Switzerland

Regulatory Standards, Controls and Audits - Episode 2: Switzerland

Tuesday 21 april 2020

After the first episode which took place in Belgium, we continue our tour of Europe, stopping this time in Switzerland or, if one prefers its long form, in the Swiss Confederation. Its mountains, its chocolate, its neutrality, its spirit of independence, its direct democracy, its cantons and... its park of technical equipment and installations which, as everywhere else, requires competent technicians and efficient CMMS to remain in perfect working order.

👉  CMMS and regulatory controls in Europe

Federalism and regulatory diversity 

Here, with a territory divided into 26 cantons, federalism is a fundamental principle. Each canton has a strong sovereign independence from the state and has its own constitution and authorities. The administration, legislation, tax regime, culture (known as canton spirit or cantonalism) can differ significantly from one region to another. For example, there are four official languages: French, German, Italian and Romansh, and some territories have even developed their own dialect. 

In the area of maintenance, which is of course of particular interest to us, the federal organisation of the country will result in a wide variety of standards and regulations governing the maintenance and safety of assets. It then becomes essential for approved organisations and maintenance service providers to be equipped with a latest-generation CMMS (Computerised Maintenance Management System), capable of helping them find their way through the diversity of regulations, compliance standards, inspection frequency and mandatory maintenance visits.

By way of example, we will focus on lifts and heating installations. 

Elevators, heating and CMMS 

The inspection of an equipment is the set of controls carried out on all of its components that may encounter failures over time. Generally, this examination is carried out by an approved specialised organisation, separate from the maintenance company, which is in charge of the upkeep and maintenance of these assets.  

If the lifts and the heating installation are regulated and are the subject of recurrent visits, the objective of the inspections differs: for lifts, the main aim is to ensure that the equipment is in good condition to ensure the safety of users, and for heating, in addition to the safety of the boilers (to avoid the risk of explosion and the emission of dangerous gases into the home), a wide range of pollution measures are taken to address air quality issues.


The European Safety Norme for Existing Lifts, SNEL EN 81-80 has been adopted in Switzerland under the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects, SIA 370.080. In the event of an accident, this standard will be used for the assessment of liability...

It establishes a list of 74 potential hazards, measures to increase the safety of lifts, regulated procedures for assessing them and defining dangerous situations and a checklist for checking the technical condition of the equipment. 

This standard is addressed to :

  • The authorities that carry out regulatory controls
  • Lift owners so that they can make the necessary modifications to their equipment, failing which they will not be held liable in the event of an incident
  • Maintenance and inspection service providers in order to inform owners about the safety level of their lifts

In contrast to many European countries, where governments have directly introduced the SNEL for the entire territory, Switzerland has left it up to each canton to take the initiative for its adoption. 

Thus, the canton of Zurich implemented in September 2008 its own directive called ESBA, Erhöhung der Sicherheit an Bestehenden Aufzügen, or provisions on increasing the safety of existing elevators, which regulates the safety of old elevators by limiting itself to the 7 main risks among the 74 potential risks listed by the SNEL. The same applies to the canton of Geneva. The canton of Fribourg is preparing, for its part, its own legal obligations concerning the implementation of this standard which will be based on the ESBA. The canton of Glarus has also ordered a directive identical to the ESBA. The canton of Ticino applies the SNEL but with the addition of specific criteria and ratings. And in the other cantons... the SNEL has not yet been adopted. 

If the nature of the lift controls varies widely from one canton to another, the same applies to their periodicity. As a general rule, but not systematically, lift inspections in Switzerland take place every 5 years.

Concerning preventive maintenance of lifts by maintenance companies, which is compulsory in France every 6 weeks and in Belgium twice a year, there is no clearly defined rule in Switzerland, and when the frequency is specified it varies greatly from one canton to another. The only obligation clearly laid down by the legislator is that each lift must have a maintenance contract.

A CMMS adapted to lifts 

The legislative specificities concerning the introduction of standards specific to each Canton will influence the mandatory controls of technical equipment and their periodicity. The conformity of the equipment to be complied with is not the same according to the region, and consequently the same applies to the checklist of components to be checked and actions to be carried out on a lift during inspections. 

CMMS will enable approved organisations and maintenance providers to catalogue the differences according to the regions where they intervene. CMMS will list the different sites, identify the regions, the related equipment and the appropriate maintenance plans and ranges for each installation, specifying the specific periodicity.

Moreover, with a mobile CMMS such as YUMAN it is possible to digitize the regulatory forms. A certificate of lift maintenance, conformity check, transformation undergone, etc. can be filled in directly on the move. The document is immediately attached to the equipment in question and accessible at any time and by all parties concerned. A follow-up that ensures the conformity of the installations, compliance with regulations and the secure storage of the forms.

📰 Read also: No CMMS? The headache of lift regulations

Heating, Air Pollution and CMMS

Three-quarters of Swiss households use fossil fuels for heating, including oil for 52%, either directly or via a heating network, and natural gas for 21%. The share of heating oil is tending to decline as a result of tax incentives.

As everyone knows, the combustion process of a boiler or a thermal power plant emits pollutants into the air: nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), sulphur dioxide (SO2), volatile organic compounds (VOC) and fine dust. The composition of the pollutants and their quantity depend on the fuel but also on the installation (the oldest being the most polluting) and its state of maintenance. Pollutants from heating are added to those from road traffic and industrial activities. 

Their reduction is a major societal challenge. They endanger people's health by causing acute attacks such as respiratory distress, stroke, etc., or chronic diseases (asthma, hypertension, etc.). In recent years, Switzerland has paid particular attention to environmental issues and air quality. The result has been a steady improvement in air quality since the mid-1980s despite the increase in the number of vehicles and heating systems for households. This improvement is due to stricter legislation and controls, technical improvements in boilers and industrial processes, and a decrease in the consumption of fuel oil in favour of natural gas.

📰 Read also: The contribution of CMMS for heating companies

In Switzerland, Air Protection based on the Federal Law on the Protection of the Environment, LPE, came into being in October 1983. It determines the strategy for combating pollutant emissions. The Air Protection Ordinance (Opair) that resulted from this law in December 1983 lays down the limit values that pollutants must not exceed in the ambient air (emissions) or at the outlet of a heating installation (emissions). It is then up to the cantons to enforce them. 

In the case of heating installations, an officially authorised chimney sweep carries out a mandatory periodic inspection, the frequency of which varies from canton to canton. The frequency varies from canton to canton. The official chimney sweep checks, among other things, the gas emissions and the combustion quality of the burner. In areas with the highest air pollution, the requirements may be even more stringent than the OAPC.

Let us illustrate this with the Canton of Vaud and its periodic inspections of emissions from its heating installations. 

Gas and oil heating 

According to Article 13 of the OAPC, gas heaters must be inspected every 4 years and oil heaters every 2 years.

Following the inspection, the certified chimney sweep completes a report in which he indicates which requirements are "fulfilled" and which are "not fulfilled". The report is then forwarded to the person in charge or owner of the equipment. If there are "not met" requirements, it means that the installation does not meet the requirements. A specialised company must then intervene within 30 days to carry out maintenance, make the necessary adjustments, then complete the chimney sweeper's report again and send it to the DGE, the General Directorate for the Environment. If the equipment is still not in conformity after this maintenance, the DGE takes the decision to clean it up. Once the remediation has been carried out, the specialised company sends a final report to the DGE. 

Heating with wood

In today's energy environment, wood is an indispensable raw material and is becoming increasingly important in the Swiss fuel market. Wood differs above all from conventional fuels in that it is renewable and locally produced. Its main problem, however, remains its significant impact on the environment and air quality, particularly with regard to fine particle emissions. At the national level, concentrations of fine particles in the air often exceed the emission limit values laid down in legislation. Consequently, wood-heating projects are strictly defined in the Vaud Cantonal Directive for the installation of wood heating, in particular with regard to areas subject to excessive emissions. Two cases can be distinguished: 

  • Zone 1: zone with excessive emissions located in a perimeter subject to a plan of measures according to article 31 OPair
  • Zone 2: Excessive emission zone outside a perimeter subject to a plan of measures

This zone category determines the periodicity of emission tests:

  • Every 2 years for wood heating installations with a heating capacity of more than 70 kW. Check carried out by an official inspector
  • Once a year for installations with a heating capacity of more than 500 kW in Excessive Emission Zones 1 and installations with a capacity of more than 1 MW in Excessive Emission Zones 2. This annual inspection is carried out by a company approved by the Luftunion (Swiss company for the measurement of air quality).

However, it is advisable, but only advisable, for owners of wood-fired boilers to enter into a maintenance contract with a specialised company. Indeed, the ageing of an installation and its poor maintenance can lead to an increase in pollutant emissions. Therefore, regular maintenance is an effective means of maintaining emissions at the desired level by ensuring the proper functioning of the installation and the quality of its combustion. However, this maintenance contract becomes compulsory in Zones 1 and 2 with excessive emissions for boilers with a power greater than 70 kW. 

A CMMS adapted to heating

These different ordinances and requirements are still evolving for some Swiss cantons. They condition the regulatory controls of equipment, particularly in terms of periodicity, but also the precise content of the controls.

The different legislations adopted by region make it complex for maintenance service providers to monitor these installations. They must ensure that they have the most accurate possible knowledge of the equipment and the legislation of the cantons in which they operate. 

Once again, for the companies in charge, a modern CMMS solution becomes the only solution to have the repository of the different regulations applicable to each installation according to its characteristics and its location. This is the only way to be able to plan and follow up maintenance and inspection visits on the legal dates to ensure perfect service to customers and avoid liability.

CMMS: a must

Even more than elsewhere, maintenance service providers operating in Switzerland must implement a CMMS solution to facilitate their organisation and respect the diversity of regulations. For them, equipping themselves with a CMMS solution such as Yuman will offer: increased productivity, easier compliance with standards and improved customer service quality.

By the way, our ambition is to offer an unparalleled user experience. Check it out right away: try CMMS for free. Within 2 minutes, the time it takes to create your account, you'll discover what's newest in this category of software.

You can also benefit from a demonstration led by one of our consultants: book a videoconference

Good discovery and see you soon on Yuman.

You will also be interested in reading :

📰 You will also be interested in reading about:


Back to the articles