Platform Lifts – HSE Safety Alert

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 HSE has issued a safety alert following a spate of serious incidents and near misses involving platform lifts.  These lifts are commonly installed to provide access between floors for people with impaired mobility.

The incidents include falls into the open lift well and becoming trapped beneath a descending platform. The risks stem from unauthorised tampering, deterioration and inadequate maintenance.

Dutyholders should review their maintenance and inspection procedures and introduce simple daily checks for the lifts. These should include ensuring that that landing doors cannot be opened when the platform is not at the same level, and that the platform cannot travel without the doors being closed and locked.

These daily checks are in addition to thorough examinations under The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). Guidance on the examination and testing of lifts is available on the HSE website, and also below:

 Target Audience: Platform lift maintenance companies. Owners and operators of platform lifts in a range of sectors (e.g. health and social care, NHS Trusts, public buildings, schools etc)

Key Issues: Potential danger from:

·         inadequate maintenance of door components;

·         inappropriate adjustment of door locks;

·         interference with zone bypass switches at doors;

·         unauthorised access to lift well (shaft) when the lifting platform (lift car) is at a different level

 Action required:

·         carry out appropriate levels of maintenance; and

·         regular safety checks

 Introduction:

This Safety Notice is aimed at:

·         companies providing maintenance of platform lifts (vertical lifting platforms) and

·         owners/operators of such platform lifts used by people with impaired mobility, installed at their premises.

Information is provided for maintenance companies on:

·         the risks from tampering with safety critical components (safety devices)

and

·         inappropriate or poor maintenance of such components/safety devices.

Safety devices are designed to prevent doors from opening unless the platform lift is at a landing.

Tampering with safety devices may allow the doors to open when the platform/lift car is not at the landing. This could result in a significant risk to the users of falling from height or being crushed.

Background:

Platform lifts (vertical lifting platforms), like traditional passenger lifts, provide access between floors. Platform lifts are hydraulically, or electrically powered. Usually, they operate over two to three floors. They typically rely on hold to run operation and operate at slower speeds than conventional passenger lifts.

HSE is aware of a number of incidents involving tampering with safety devices or inappropriate maintenance of door switches or unlocking zone bypass switches during maintenance. Combined with deterioration of the doors and their hinges, landing doors have opened when the platform/lift car is not at that landing. This resulted in people potentially accessing the lift well when the lifting platform was not at the same floor level/landing. This has resulted in members of the public or workers falling down the open lift well or becoming trapped beneath a descending platform.

Three incidents occurred on early model Nami-lift 400 platform lifts in the serial number range from 2433 (installed in September 1999) to 4225 (installed in December 2006). These lifts incorporate Bowden cables to control the door locks, which are more susceptible to incorrect adjustment.

HSE has identified a number of issues as a result of wear or inappropriate maintenance:

·         Bent door lock switch contacts – The contacts on door lock switches have been bent to increase the switch contact force; however, this can prematurely signal to the control system that the door is locked, allowing operation of the lift platform when the locking pin is only partially engaged with the latch plate.

·         Shortened door lock pins which do not provide adequate engagement with the door lock plate, allowing the door to be opened

·         Incorrect adjustment of Bowden cables

·         Missing screws securing door locks and latch plates

·         Poor adjustment of unlocking zone bypass mechanisms, meaning that the switch remains permanently activated, allowing the platform to travel between floors with the landing doors open.

·         Damage to doors and door frames resulting in poor door alignment

 Actions required:

1.       Lift maintenance companies should ensure maintenance activities are undertaken by competent personnel; in line with the manufacturer’s instructions and/or guidance; and in accordance with a safe system of work. Maintenance of the safety elements of the lift must not affect its safe operation. Modifications intended to keep a lift operating but which may result in unsafe operation must not be carried out under any circumstances.

2.       Owners and operators of vertical lifting platforms should:

·         review maintenance and inspection procedures to ensure that these tasks are carried out by persons competent to do so

·         introduce simple tests into daily checks for the lifts to confirm that:

·         Landing doors cannot be opened when the platform is not at the same level and;

·         The platform cannot travel without the doors closed and locked

The checks should be carried out by a person who is competent to do so.

 Relevant legal documents:

·         Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

·         Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

 References:

British Standards

·         BS EN 81-1:1998 +A3 2009 Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts – Part 1: Electric lifts

·         BS EN 81-2:1998 +A3 2009 Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts – Part 1: Hydraulic lifts

·         BS EN 81-41:2010 Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts – Special lifts for the transport of persons and goods Part 41: Vertical lifting platforms intended for use by persons with impaired mobility

General note:

Please share this information with a colleague who may have this product/ equipment or operate this type of system/process.

For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/ or contact us on 07507 358685, 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 v3.0

 

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

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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 (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg339.htm)

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: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/faq-lifting.htm

For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/passenger-lifts.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, 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