Various regulations put obligations on 'owners' of lifts, lifting platforms, escalators and moving walks - responsibilities often delegated to FMs, says Nick Mellor
18 January 2016 | By Nick Mellor
1/ Regularly maintain your equipment
If your equipment is in a workplace there are specific regulations requiring it to be maintained. Elsewhere, the Health & Safety at Work Act usually applies, and having lifts, escalator and lifting equipment maintained would be seen as being reasonably practical to ensure the safety of users.
2/ Find a good maintenance contractor
A good contractor should keep you well informed and offer good advice. If so, we don't see how appointing consultants for similar advice adds value. Consultants can be of use in informing their clients and providing special skills and knowledge; however, most consultants do not carry out maintenance themselves.
3/ Agree 3-year maintenance contracts
A good agreement typically spans three to five years and will enable the contractor to set up an effective maintenance programme. Shorter periods can encourage short-term reactive maintenance. A good maintenance programme should protect the value of the assets by maximising the life span of equipment and reducing future health and safety problems.
4/ Passenger lifts need regular care
Passenger lifts should be thoroughly examined every six months by an independent 'competent person' under The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER). Reports of thorough examination should be shared with the maintenance contractor, who should then be asked to carry out any repairs recommended in the report. As part of thorough examination, the 'competent person' often calls for supplementary tests to be carried out to check safety.
5/ Simple tips can avoid claims
Many owners and managers suffer from rising levels of claims for personal injury related to basic issues such as the levelling of the lift car and impact from doors. Regular maintenance will help to keep consistent levelling. Fitting full-height light curtains to re-open the doors before they hit passengers is a simple improvement. You are also advised to ask your maintenance company to check the closing force and impact from the doors to ensure that they are within accepted limits.
6/ Survey equipment
There are standards that provide a recognised format for surveying the safety of lift and escalator equipment. Others provide a means for surveying lifts for improvements in accessibility or vandal resistance. A good contractor will be able to carry out these surveys.
7/ Make regular checks
These include checking that the lift stops level at each floor, that the alarm system is working and, for escalators, that it has run a full cycle. These are simple and easy checks that you can do to make sure the equipment is running correctly.
8/ Read BS Codes of Practice for safe working
There are various codes of practice covering different areas of equipment that give useful guidance on the owners and workers' responsibilities. Guidance on safe working on lifts, escalator and lifting platforms can be found in British Standard documents BS 7255 safe working on lifts, BS 7801 safe working on escalators and moving walks and BS 9102 safe working on lifting platforms.
9/ Releasing trapped passengers
Arrangements should be made for the maintenance contractor to release trapped passengers. In some circumstances, for example, in gearless lifts, lifts with bi-directional safety gears, machine-room-less installations and so on. It is recommended that only a lift engineer should undertake this activity.
10/ Fit an alarm
Alarm communication systems have been fitted to new lifts since July 1999 to allow trapped passengers to call for help. They have also been fitted to many older lifts. The connection to the rescue service should be maintained, e.g. telephone line used for many auto-dialler type alarms devices. If the alarm is out of order (that is, the line is lost or disconnected), options include taking the lift out of service or providing some other alarm service as a temporary measure.
11/ Avoiding accidents
The lift landing door unlocking key should be kept securely and given only to personnel who are trained and competent to use it. Inappropriate use of the unlocking key has led to serious accidents for which the owner was found responsible. In particular, on glass lift doors where there may be children, be wary of little fingers - especially children resting their hands on lift doors and subsequently trapping their fingers when they open. Measures to address this risk include fitting detectors to stop the doors opening.
Nick Mellor is technical director at the Lift and Escalator Industry Association (LEIA) and will be speaking at LIFTEX 2016 (25 - 26 May 2016, Excel, London)