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WHAT EVERY FM SHOULD KNOW ABOUT UNSAFE LIFTS

Author : David Strydom

23 June 2015

Lifts are a crucial part of most buildings with respect to convenience, but they can also be major health and safety risks if they're not correctly maintained. PFM spoke to two experts in the industry, asking them for their safety tips as well as the perils faced if safety isn’t ensured

“If you own or occupy premises in which there is a lift, you and/or your company are responsible, under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, for maintaining your lift in good and safe working order,” says Jon Stannah, joint-MD of Stannah Lift Services. “If your lift is in a workplace you also have an obligation to have the lift thoroughly examined by a ‘competent person’, who will inspect the lift with a view to safety, and should advise you of any defects.”

This systematic and regular ‘thorough examination’ of your lift and all associated equipment focuses entirely on the safety of the equipment, Stannah explains. “This examination is usually carried out by your insurance provider or a ‘competent person’ appointed by them.

“In addition, and under the same legislation, you should arrange for the lift to be maintained regularly. Your lift traffic analysis will determine the frequency of servicing. Regular maintenance by a reputable lift servicing company, should include the routine adjustment to components, replacement of worn or damaged parts, topping up fluids - in short ensuring the lift is operating safely and efficiently.”

According to Stannah, failure to maintain your lift will leave you vulnerable to passengers becoming trapped in the lift. “Trapped passengers are the lift owners responsibility and you must be able to demonstrate that you have an emergency plan in place, in line with BS EN81-28.

“Then there’s to equipment which could increase costs and cause your lift to have unplanned downtime, where you may be unable to provide access to all levels of your building.”

Finally, there’s danger to life. “Think of your lift as you would a high-performance car, it needs to be checked regularly to ensure safety.”

Richard Clarke, sales and marketing director at Schindler comments says a preventative maintenance regime is critical to maximising the availability of an organisation‘s lift equipment and to ensure it remains compliant with the latest mandatory safety standards and stringent codes of practice.

“Passenger safety has to be of paramount importance and protecting an organisation‘s asset also makes good sense.”

FMs have a duty of care to passengers to ensure the integrity of a building‘s lift equipment. Passenger lifts should be inspected every six months under The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) and by an independent insurance inspector.

“Some major lift companies may carry out additional periodic safety inspections to offer further reassurance on performance, reliability and safety – something that we would strongly recommend.”

There are two main areas where accidents can occur if maintenance is neglected, says Clarke. “First is contact with closing doors because of inoperable or faulty door safety edge protection. Second is trips and falls being associated with poor floor levelling where the level of the lift floor and the adjacent landing are stepped.” 

Lift technology has evolved significantly over the years and older lifts may not even be fitted with door edge protection and could demonstrate poor floor levelling.

“To reduce the risk of injury to passengers, consideration should be given to enhancing older lifts with multi-beam, non-contact safety edges to the lift car doors,” says Clarke. “Some door edges have green and red warning lights to show when the doors are closing and when it is safe to enter the lift. Enhanced levelling systems can also deliver improved level access in to and out of the lift car and reduce the risk of potential trip hazards.”

A regular inspection routine delivered by a competent lift maintenance specialist should include technical expertise and the rapid supply of spare parts. Preventative maintenance is critical to an effective maintenance regime and to delivering peak performance and a safe running condition.

“Maintenance regimes must be specific and tailored to the age, traffic flow, location and vulnerability of the lift,” Clarke explains. “If correctly delivered, a proactive maintenance regime will improve the life of the equipment, extend the time between call backs, maximise lift availability and reliability, and reduce the risk of passenger accidents and associated litigation.”

Richard Clarke, sales and marketing director at Schindler says: "A preventative maintenance regime is critical to maximising the availability of an organisation‘s lift equipment and to ensure it remains compliant with the latest mandatory safety standards and stringent codes of practice. Passenger safety has to be of paramount importance and protecting an organisation‘s asset also makes good sense.

"FMs have a duty of care to passengers to ensure the integrity of a building‘s lift equipment. Passenger lifts should be inspected every six months under The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) and by an independent insurance inspector. Some major lift companies may carry out additional periodic safety inspections to offer further reassurance on performance, reliability and safety – something that we would strongly recommend."

According to Clarke, the two main areas where accidents can occur if maintenance is neglected, are:

Contact with closing doors because of inoperable or faulty door safety edge protection

Trips and falls associated with poor floor levelling where the level of the lift floor and the adjacent landing are stepped. 

"Lift technology has evolved significantly over the years and older lifts may not even be fitted with door edge protection and could demonstrate poor floor levelling," says Clarke. "To reduce the risk of injury to passengers, consideration should be given to enhancing older lifts with multi-beam, non-contact safety edges to the lift car doors. Some door edges have green and red warning lights to show when the doors are closing and when it is safe to enter the lift."

Enhanced levelling systems can also deliver improved level access in to and out of the lift car and reduce the risk of potential trip hazards.

"A regular inspection routine delivered by a competent lift maintenance specialist should  include technical expertise and the rapid supply of spare parts. Preventative maintenance is critical to an effective maintenance regime and to delivering peak performance and a safe running condition."

Maintenance regimes must be specific and tailored to the age, traffic flow, location and vulnerability of the lift, says Clarke. "If correctly delivered, a proactive maintenance regime will improve the life of the equipment, extend the time between call backs, maximise lift availability and reliability, and reduce the risk of passenger accidents and associated litigation."


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