New safety alert concerning platform lifts

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New safety alert on platform lifts issued by HSE
A platform lift ready for use. (There is no suggestion of any flaw with this particular model)

A new safety alert concerning platform lifts – platforms or lifts for those with impaired mobility – has been issued by the Health and Safety Executive.

It arises from concerns over the risk of falls from height to employees/workers and members of the public.

The alert is aimed at platform lift maintenance companies, owners and operators in a range of sectors from health and social care to education.

The HSE has identified 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

Actions required:

  • Carry out appropriate levels of maintenance
  • Regular safety checks

Platform lifts provide access between floors and 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 has 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
  • 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, allowing the platform to travel between floors with doors open.
  • Damage to doors and door frames resulting in poor door alignment

Actions required:

Lift maintenance companies should ensure maintenance is 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.

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 the platform cannot travel without the doors closed and locked
  • Ensure checks are carried out by a person competent to do so

If in any doubt, the qualified consultants at EP Risk Consultancy can offer practical guidance on platform lifts. Please contact us today, to arrange an appointment.