Health and safety in education – two students nearly killed after botched science experiment

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After the horrendous headline news of two higher education students nearly killed during a botched science experiment in which they were given enough caffeine for 300 cups of coffee, and the university in question being fined £400,000, we’re sharing some of HSE’s guidance this week on health and safety in education.

HSE works with Education stakeholders across GB to ensure that education dutyholders are managing any significant risks arising from school activities and from the school premises e.g. meeting the requirements to manage asbestos; slips and trips. The Sector encourages stakeholders to adopt a common sense approach to risk management, making clear that schools are about providing children with a range of valuable learning experiences within which risks should be managed proportionately and sensibly.

The guidance (which can be found at covers schools (state funded and independent), further education establishments and higher education institutions. Guidance on managing the significant risks in the sector for pupils and members of staff is included. The guidance makes clear that a sensible approach to risk management is essential.

Leading sensible health and safety management in schools

Sensible health and safety management means making sure that the focus is on real risks with the potential to cause harm, not wasting resources on trivial matters and unnecessary paperwork. In short effective leaders follow a sensible and proportionate approach to health and safety management that promotes risk awareness rather than risk avoidance.

While many schools manage health and safety effectively and sensibly, some have adopted over cautious approaches. This means that pupils are missing out on challenging and exciting activities and learning opportunities, and the chance to develop new skills.

In schools sensible health and safety starts at the top and relies on every member of the management team making sure that risk is managed responsibly and proportionately. It is about creating a safe learning environment, giving pupils an appreciation of risk and how to deal with it. It means doing what is reasonably practicable to reduce significant risks by putting in place control measures to manage the real risks. It is not about the elimination of all risk.

Health and safety arrangements in schools need to be proportionate and appropriate to the risks involved:

  • Primary schools and ‘traditional’ classrooms in secondary and sixth form colleges are typically lower risk environments, and you will probably already be doing enough. The classroom checklist, which is not mandatory, provides a useful prompt for these types of classroom.
  • Risks may increase in Design and Technology workshops, science laboratories, art studios, textiles, drama, and PE.
  • Some of the higher risks to manage include vehicle and pedestrian movements on site, refurbishment and construction work, and adventure activities. You may wish to consider the joint high level statement ‘Children’s play and leisure: promoting a balanced approach.’

The following guidance (click on the links) provides advice for all schools on:

Frequently asked questions

These FAQs (click on the links) help illustrate the nature of some of the issues that HSE routinely gives advice on.  The list is not exhaustive and further questions and answers may be added at a later date.

For more information, visit the HSE web page: or contact us on 07896 016380 or at and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence



Gas boilers – flues in voids (HSE Safety Notice); housing association prosecuted for safety failings

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Housing association prosecuted for safety failings

A housing association has been prosecuted after allowing renovations to take place that put residents at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

A Sheriff Court heard that one of Scotland’s largest registered social landlords had allowed chimneys to be removed from properties on two separate occasions. It was later discovered during the annual gas checks that the chimneys acted as the necessary gas flue for adjacent properties.

HSE’s investigation into both incidents revealed that at the time the chimney removals took place not only was there was no procedure in place for the company’s workers to follow in respect of this type of work, neither were any risk assessments carried out in relation to the chimney removals which would have identified the risk to carbon monoxide poisoning for the residents.

The housing association pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (1974) and was fined £8,000.

Around seven people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated.

Gas boilers – flues in voids (updated 20th May 2013)

This Safety Notice provides updated information to that in the safety alert that was issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 2nd October 2008 following a death earlier that year.

The purpose of the original Alert was to raise awareness of the potential dangers from certain types of flues connected to gas-fired central heating installations in some properties (particularly, but not exclusively, a large number of flats and apartments completed since about 2000) that may not have been installed properly, or may have fallen into disrepair.

Where boilers are located away from external walls, flues are more likely to run through ceiling (or wall) voids. In such cases when the gas appliance is serviced or maintained it can be difficult, or impossible, to determine whether the flue has been installed correctly or whether it is still in good condition.

Where a flue fault exists in combination with a boiler which is not operating correctly, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) could be released into the living accommodation. CO is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels. It stops the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs and can kill quickly, without warning.

The 2008 Alert referred to the relevant gas industry technical guidance which gas engineers were expected to follow. A revised version of this guidance has now been published by Gas Safe Register. This changes the approach that Gas Safe registered engineers will take when they encounter relevant installations.

The purpose of this Safety Notice is to make homeowners, landlords and tenants aware of these changes as action might be required. It is not, however, the only means of communication. An industry working group (including representatives of the gas industry, home builders, home warranty providers and boiler manufacturers, assisted by HSE) will ensure that information is readily available to all those who may be affected.


The introduction of fan-flued gas appliances in the mid 1990s allowed gas central heating boilers to be installed away from external walls. This meant that builders could design new-build and refurbishment properties with boilers being installed on internal walls to make better use of the available space. The flues to these boilers were, in some cases, routed through voids in the ceiling space (and through stud walls) between properties above.

This practice became progressively more popular from 2000 onwards and the vast majority of affected systems are thought to be located in new build flats and apartments completed since 2000. It is however possible that other types of home may have similar central heating systems installed.

Gas engineers are legally required to check the flue after carrying out any work on the boiler. This will include a visual inspection. Similarly, when an engineer installs a boiler they need to ensure that it can be used without constituting a danger to anyone; this would include checking whether the flue is safe. The original installer and every subsequent servicing or maintenance engineer need to be able to check that:

  • the flue is continuous throughout its length;
  • all joints are correctly assembled and are appropriately sealed; and
  • the flue is adequately supported throughout its length.

Unless the gas engineer can make these checks they cannot ensure that the flue from the boiler is safe in order to comply with their legal duties. This necessitates the provision of appropriate inspection hatches in the ceiling (and, where relevant, stud wall).

The original industry technical guidance (aimed at registered gas engineers) advised that where the flue to the boiler was concealed within a void and could not be visually inspected it should be assessed as “not to current standards” (NCS) in accordance with the Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure (GIUSP – see Reference section for explanation). This was dependent on there being no other risks being present which may have made the boiler unsafe.

Revised guidance takes effect on 1st January 2011. This is the result of the industry working group who undertook a review of the original guidance and concluded that the potential risk from such systems, should it not be possible to inspect the flue, requires an alternative approach to ensure that the necessary remedial action is taken.

Action required

The revised technical guidance requires inspection hatches to be fitted in properties where the flue is concealed within voids and cannot be inspected. The homeowner (or landlord etc.) has until 31st December 2012 to arrange for inspection hatches to be installed. Any gas engineer working on affected systems after 1st January 2013 will advise the homeowner that the system is “at risk” (AR) in accordance with the GIUSP and, with the owner’s permission will turn off the gas supply to the boiler so it cannot be used.

In the interim period, where no inspection hatches are fitted, the registered gas engineers will carry out a simple risk assessment which should ensure that the risk from exposure to CO is managed in the short-term. This risk assessment includes:

  • looking for signs of leakage along the flue route; and
  • carrying out a flue combustion analysis check (and obtaining a satisfactory result); and
  • checking for the presence of suitable audible carbon monoxide (CO) alarms (and installing such alarms where they are not already fitted).

As long as this boiler passes the series of safety checks and the risk assessment does not identify any concerns about its safety, it can be left on. Suitable inspection hatches will however need to be fitted to the ceiling (or wall, as appropriate) by end 31st December 2012. Wherever possible it is recommended that inspection hatches are fitted before this date.

Once inspection hatches have been fitted, the gas engineer will be able to make sure that the flue is safe and was installed in line with the relevant standards and manufacturers instructions.

A simple explanation of the issue, the risks and how the matter can be resolved, as well as a number of frequently asked questions, have been developed for householders. The industry working group are looking at how best to target individual households that are most likely to be affected. In the meantime, further information is available on the Gas Safe Register website:

If you are unsure whether a property has concealed gas flues and think you might be at risk:

  • If you have your gas appliances checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer he/she will be able to advise whether this Notice applies to your property.
  • If you do NOT have your boiler regularly serviced arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to visit to check the appliances and flues. Show them this Notice.

If a property has concealed flues in voids and no inspection hatches:

  • If the property is less than 2 years old contact the original builder for assistance with the retrofitting of inspection hatches and repair of any flue defects.
  • If the property is between 2 and 10 years old contact the home warranty provider as you may be covered by them if there are defects in the flue. The main warranty providers (NHBC, Premier Guarantee and Zurich Building Guarantee) have however advised that cover is not provided for installing inspection hatches in homes over two years old.
  • If the property is 10 years or older you should contact a Gas Safe registered engineer. You or your landlord will have to meet the cost of the inspection hatches and any defects to the boiler or its flue. It may still be worth contacting the home builder who may be able to assist in some way, or be able to recommend reputable building services companies to carry out the work.

Having taken advice as above, arrange for a competent builder or building services company to fit inspection hatches as soon as you can and, in any case, by 31st December 2012. (If you don’t, from 1st January 2013 a Gas Safe registered engineer will advise you that the appliance is “at risk” and, with your permission, will turn off the appliance; they will tell you it should not be used until inspection hatches are fitted so that the flue can be checked for safety.)

Do not:

  • Attempt to check the flue system yourself (unless you are a Gas Safe registered engineer). You are likely to do more harm to the installation and place you and your family at greater risk.
  • Try to install inspection hatches yourself. You may damage other key functions of the ceiling, such as fire and noise proofing.

If you live in rented accommodation and think your property might be affected:

  • Bring this Notice to the attention of your landlord or managing agent. It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that inspection hatches are installed and that the boiler and flue are checked every year.

If you think you are suffering the symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Turn the appliance off immediately and contact the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.
  • If you think you or your family experience any of the symptoms of CO poisoning you should seek urgent medical advice from either your GP or an accident and emergency department.

For more information visit the HSE web page: or contact us on 07896 016380 or at and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence



Violence at work – company told by insurers to employ a professional ‘Keyholding Service’ to comply with health and safety regulations

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Company told by insurers to employ a professional ‘Keyholding Service’ to comply with health and safety regulations

The HSE ‘Myth Busters Challenge Panel’ Case 404 is the subject of this week’s news update.

‘Health and Safety’ is often incorrectly used as a convenient excuse to stop what are essentially sensible activities going ahead. The Health and Safety Executive has set up an independent panel – the Myth Busters Challenge Panel – to scrutinize such decisions.

The Panel is chaired by the HSE Chair, supported by a pool of independent members who represent a wide range of interests. This includes small businesses, public safety, Trade Unions, the insurance industry and others.

This Panel will look into enquiries regarding the advice given by non-regulators such as insurance companies, health and safety consultants and employers and, quickly assess if a sensible and proportionate decision has been made. They want to make clear that “health and safety” is about managing real risks properly, not being risk averse and stopping people getting on with their lives.

If you think a decision or advice that you have been given in the name of health and safety is wrong, or disproportionate for the activity you are doing, you can contact the panel here: But please note this is not the right route into HSE for raising a concern or complaint about your workplace, or for general enquires. Instead, go here ( to raise a workplace health and safety concern, here ( to make a complaint, or here ( to get advice.

Issue (Case 404)

A company with an employee nominated as a primary intruder alarm keyholder was told by insurers that there is a legal requirement to establish a “Keyholding Service” with a professional security company in order to comply with health and safety regulations.

Panel opinion

Employers do need to take steps to ensure that those responding to alarm call outs are not exposed to a risk of violence. Those steps will be based on an assessment of the risks to their employees. Whilst a ‘keyholding’ service’ may form part of a safe system of work, there is no legal requirement to engage such a service. The insurance company should not have implied that this was the case.

Violence at work

People who deal directly with the public may face aggressive or violent behaviour. They may be sworn at, threatened or even attacked.

The following guidance gives practical advice to help you find out if violence is a problem for your employees, and if it is, how to tackle it. The advice is aimed at employers, but should also interest employees and safety representatives.

Violence is …

The Health and Safety Executive’s definition of work-related violence is:

‘any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work’.

Verbal abuse and threats are the most common types of incident. Physical attacks are comparatively rare.

Who is at risk?

Employees whose job requires them to deal with the public can be at risk from violence. Most at risk are those who are engaged in:

  • giving a service
  • caring
  • education
  • cash transactions
  • delivery/collection
  • controlling
  • representing authority

Is it my concern? 

Both employer and employees have an interest in reducing violence at work. For employers, violence can lead to poor morale and a poor image for the organisation, making it difficult to recruit and keep staff. It can also mean extra cost, with absenteeism, higher insurance premiums and compensation payments. For employees, violence can cause pain, distress and even disability or death. Physical attacks are obviously dangerous but serious or persistent verbal abuse or threats can also damage employees’ health through anxiety or stress

What the law requires

There are five main pieces of health and safety law which are relevant to violence at work. These are:

  • The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act)

Employers have a legal duty under this Act to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees.

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Employers must assess the risks to employees and make arrangements for their health and safety by effective:

–  planning;

–  organisation;

–  control;

–  monitoring and review.

The risks covered should, where appropriate, include the need to protect employees from exposure to reasonably foreseeable violence.

  • The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)

Employers must notify their enforcing authority in the event of an accident at work to any employee resulting in death, major injury or incapacity for normal work for three or more consecutive days. This includes any act of non-consensual physical violence done to a person at work.

  • Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (a) and The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 (b)

Employers must inform, and consult with, employees in good time on matters relating to their health and safety. Employee representatives, either appointed by recognised trade unions under (a) or elected under (b) may make representations to their employer on matters affecting the health and safety of those they represent.

Effective management of violence 

A straightforward four stage management process is set out below

Stage 1: Finding out if you have a problem

Stage 2: Deciding what action to take

Stage 3: Take action

Stage 4: Check what you have done

It is important to remember that these four stages are not a one-off set of actions. If stage 4 shows there is still a problem then the process should be repeated again. Stages 1 and 2 are completed by carrying out a risk assessment

Stage 1 Finding out if you have a problem

The first step in risk assessment is to identify the hazard. You may think violence is not a problem at your workplace or that incidents are rare. However, your employees’ view may be very different.

A major petrol company was not aware of the size of the problem faced daily by forecourt employees, until it sought their views during a series of meetings. Filling station employees believed strongly that increased customer violence was the most serious threat to their personal health and safety.

Ask your staff – do this informally through managers, supervisors and safety representatives or use a short questionnaire to find out whether your employees ever feel threatened. Tell them the results of your survey so they realise that you recognise the problem.

Keep detailed records – it is a good idea to record incidents, including verbal abuse and threats. You may find it useful to record the following information:

  • an account of what happened;
  • details of the victim(s), the assailant(s) and any witnesses;
  • the outcome, including working time lost to both the individual(s) affected and to the organisation as a whole;
  • the details of the location of the incident.

For a variety of reasons some employees may be reluctant to report incidents of aggressive behaviour which make them feel threatened or worried. They may for instance feel that accepting abuse is part of the job. You will need a record of all incidents to enable you to build up a complete picture of the problem. Encourage employees to report incidents promptly and fully and let them know that this is what you expect.

Classify all incidents – use headings such as place, time, type of incident, potential severity, who was involved and possible causes. It is important that you examine each incident report to establish whether there could have been a more serious outcome. Here is an example of a simple classification to help you decide how serious incidents are:

  • fatal injury;
  • major injury;
  • injury or emotional shock requiring first aid, out-patient treatment, counselling, absence from work (record number of days);
  • feeling of being at risk or distressed.

It should be easy to classify ‘major injuries’ but you will have to decide how to classify ‘serious or persistent verbal abuse’ for your organisation, so as to cover all incidents that worry staff.

You can use the details from your incident records along with the classifications to check for patterns. Look for common causes, areas or times. The steps you take can then be targeted where they are needed most.

A survey by a trade union after 12 separate shop robberies found that each incident occurred between 5 and 7 o’clock in the evening. This finding could have useful security lessons for late night opening of stores and shops.

Try to predict what might happen – do not restrict your assessment to incidents which have already affected your own employees. There may be a known pattern of violence linked to certain work situations. Trade and professional organisations and trade unions may be able to provide useful information on this. Articles in the local, national and technical press might also alert you to relevant incidents and potential problem areas.

Stage 2 Deciding what action to take

Having found out that violence could be a problem for your employees you need to decide what needs to be done. Continue the risk assessment by taking the following steps to help you decide what action you need to take.

Decide who might be harmed, and how

Identify which employees are at risk – those who have face-to-face contact with the public are normally the most vulnerable. Where appropriate, identify potentially violent people in advance so that the risks from them can be minimised.

Evaluate the risk

Check existing arrangements, are the precautions already in place adequate or should more be done? Remember it is usually a combination of factors that give rise to violence. Factors which you can influence include:

  • the level of training and information provided;
  • the environment;
  • the design of the job.

Consider the way these factors work together to influence the risk of violence.

Examples of preventive measures are listed at the bottom of this page.

Training and information

Train your employees so that they can spot the early signs of aggression and either avoid it or cope with it. Make sure they fully understand any system you have set up for their protection.

Provide employees with any information they might need to identify clients with a history of violence or to anticipate factors which might make violence more likely.

The environment

Provide better seating, decor, lighting in public waiting rooms and more regular information about delays.

Consider physical security measures such as:

  • video cameras or alarm systems;
  • coded security locks on doors to keep the public out of staff areas;
  • wider counters and raised floors on the staff side of the counter to give staff more protection.

The design of the job

Use cheques, credit cards or tokens instead of cash to make robbery less attractive.

Bank money more frequently and vary the route taken to reduce the risk of robbery.

Check the credentials of clients and the place and arrangements for any meetings away from the workplace.

Arrange for staff to be accompanied by a colleague if they have to meet a suspected aggressor at their home or at a remote location.

Make arrangements for employees who work away from their base to keep in touch.

Maintain numbers of staff at the workplace to avoid a lone worker situation developing.

The threat of violence does not stop when the work period has ended. It is good practice to make sure that employees can get home safely. For example where employees are required to work late, employers might help by arranging transport home or by ensuring a safe parking area is available.

Employees are likely to be more committed to the measures if they help to design them and put them into practice. A mix of measures often works best. Concentrating on just one aspect of the problem may make things worse in another. Try to take an overall view and balance the risks to your employees against any possible reaction of the public. Remember that an atmosphere that suggests employees are worried about violence can sometimes increase its likelihood.

In one housing department it was found that protective screens made it difficult for staff and the public to speak to each other. This caused tension on both sides. Management and safety representatives agreed a package of measures including taking screens down, providing more comfortable waiting areas and better information on waiting lists and delays. This package of measures reduced tension and violent incidents.

Record your findings

Keep a record of the significant findings of your assessment. The record should provide a working document for both managers and employees.

Review and revise your assessment

Regularly check that your assessment is a true reflection of your current work situation. Be prepared to add further measures or change existing measures where these are not working. This is particularly important where the job changes. If a violent incident occurs, look back at your assessment, evaluate it and make any necessary changes.

Stage 3 Take action

Your policy for dealing with violence may be written into your health and safety policy statement, so that all employees are aware of it. This will help your employees to co-operate with you, follow procedures properly and report any further incidents.

Stage 4 Check what you have done

Check on a regular basis how well your arrangements are working, consulting employees or their representatives as you do so. Consider setting up joint management and safety representative committees to do this. Keep records of incidents and examine them regularly; they will show what progress you are making and if the problem is changing. If your measures are working well, keep them up. If violence is still a problem, try something else. Go back to Stages 1 and 2 and identify other preventive measures that could work.

What about the victims?

If there is a violent incident involving your workforce you will need to respond quickly to avoid any long-term distress to employees. It is essential to plan how you are going to provide them with support, before any incidents. You may want to consider the following:

  • debriefing – victims will need to talk through their experience as soon as possible after the event. Remember that verbal abuse can be just as upsetting as a physical attack;
  • time off work – individuals will react differently and may need differing amounts of time to recover. In some circumstances they might need specialist counselling;
  • legal help – in serious cases legal help may be appropriate;
  • other employees – may need guidance and/or training to help them to react appropriately.

The Home Office leaflet Victims of crime gives more useful advice if one of your employees suffers an injury, loss or damage from a crime, including how to apply for compensation. It should be available from libraries, police stations, Citizens Advice Bureaux and victim support schemes.

Further help may be available from victim support schemes that operate in many areas. Your local police station can direct you to your nearest one. Alternatively you can contact them yourself at the addresses below:

In England and Wales:

Victim Support, National Office, Cranmer House, 39 Brixton Road, London SW9 6DZ

Tel: 020 7735 9166

In Scotland:

Victim Support Scotland, 15/23 Hardwell Close, Edinburgh EH8 9RX

Tel: 0131 668 4486

Fax: 0131 662 5400


Where can I get further information?

Please download the free guidance leaflet, visit the HSE web page or contact us on 07896 016380 or at, and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence



Passenger lifts and escalators – Bolton resident dies in lift shaft fall

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page ( and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at

Bolton resident dies in lift shaft fall

A property management company has been fined after a resident of an apartment block in Bolton died after falling down a lift shaft.

Bolton Crown Court heard how the resident and a friend were trapped in a lift and unable to raise the alarm. They attempted a self-rescue by forcing the doors open and sliding out onto the floor below.

The resident slipped under the lift car and fell five stories down the lift shaft and died of multiple injuries. His friend escaped unhurt.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred in August 2014 found that the management company for the building failed to take suitable and sufficient steps to prevent the resident and his friend self-rescuing.

The management company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £45,000.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Sarah Taylor said: “Those who manage lifts have a responsibility to ensure they are properly maintained but if people are trapped they have a way to raise the alarm and are not in a position to try and rescue themselves.

“The problems with this lift were well known and if [the management company] had fulfilled their health and safety responsibilities [the resident] would probably be around to celebrate Christmas with his family this weekend.”

Passenger lifts and escalators

Lifts provided for use by workers in workplaces are subject to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER). However, in most cases lifting equipment which is not provided for, or used by, people at work (eg stair lifts in private dwellings and platform lifts in shops used for customer access) will not be subject to either LOLER or PUWER. But businesses providing this equipment will have responsibilities for its safety (it will require routine maintenance and inspection).

LOLER does not apply to escalators or any travelators / moving walkways which transport people, even though they may ‘lift’ people from one level to another. Such equipment is covered by regulation 19 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.

However, escalators and similar machines, platform and stair lifts, and all conventional passenger lifts must meet the requirements for safety and conformity of either the Machinery or Lift Directives in their design, construction and installation, when first brought into use. (Note: stair lifts, certain slow moving platform lifts (less that 0.15 m/s) and construction hoists come within scope of the Machinery Directive instead of the Lifts Directive).

Passenger lifts used by people at work

Passenger lifts and combined goods / passenger lifts in workplaces (eg offices and factories) which are primarily used by people at work, are subject to periodic thorough examination and inspection, as required by LOLER and PUWER. Guidance for lift owners and others responsible for the examination and testing of lifts is available in: Thorough examination and testing of lifts: Simple guidance for lift owners (

Passenger lifts used by people who are not at work

LOLER (and PUWER) may not apply where a passenger lift is not used by people at work (eg in public areas of a shopping centre). However, if the lift is operated by – or to some extent under the control of – an employer or self-employed person in connection with their business, they still have some responsibility for the health and safety of people they don’t employ. This includes members of the public who use the lift and those people who may work on or inspect the lift.

Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act imposes these general responsibilities, so far as reasonably practicable. As the risks may be the same as when using lifts in connection with work, a similar regime of maintenance, inspection and examination to that required under LOLER and PUWER may be entirely ‘reasonably practicable’ in managing the risks. In any case, insurers may impose demands for similarly stringent levels of risk management to cover public liability.

Escalators and moving walkways

Guidelines for the safe operation of escalators and moving walks (walkways) have been prepared by the Safety Assessment Federation in consultation with HSE. This document provides considerable guidance on the duties and responsibilities of those who:

  • manufacture, supply and install escalators and moving walkways
  • design premises where they are to be installed
  • own or manage premises in which they are installed, and
  • inspect and examine escalators and moving walkways

Although not subject to LOLER, these detailed guidelines recommend thorough examination of escalators and moving walkways, normally at six-monthly intervals.

Stair lifts:

Where provided as work equipment for use by employees, stair lifts will be subject to the requirements of LOLER (thorough examination) and PUWER (maintenance and inspection). Where they are not, but are still provided in connection with an undertaking (eg in work environments where the public or visitors may use them), employers and the self-employed will have responsibilities for the safety of all users under Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. These may be adequately discharged by undertaking maintenance, and inspection, and 6 monthly thorough examination, even though PUWER & LOLER may not apply to the equipment.

However, all new stair lifts (either when first placed on the market, or first brought into use), as machinery are subject to the Machinery Directive / Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008. They must be constructed to be safe, supplied with Instructions, a Declaration of Conformity and CE marking. Those stair lifts which involve a hazard of falling from a vertical height of 3m or more are subject to Annex IV (item 17) of the Machinery Directive (so subject to conformity assessment as required by Article 12 (3) or 12 (4) of 2006/42/EC).

More information on LOLER can be found on the LOLER FAQ page:

For more information visit the HSE web page: or contact us on 07896 016380 or at, and we’ll be happy to help. We carry out health and safety inspections (as well as fire/legionella risk assessments) of all types of residential and commercial properties and are happy to provide a no-obligation quotation on request.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence