Companies that install and maintain platform lifts have been warned that they must take measures to ensure the safe use of such equipment after a number of recent incidents where users have been injured or killed.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued a safety notice explaining that it was aware of several incidents where lifts or their safety devices have been tampered with by users and where equipment has not been maintained properly.
It has advised lift maintenance firms to ensure servicing is carried out bycompetent personnel and that it is done in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.
It the safety alert targeting both servicing firms and end-users, the HSE said that the maintenance of lift safety elements “must not affect is safe operation” and that modifications intended to keep a lift operating but which may result in unsafe operation “must not be carried out under any circumstances”.
Platform lifts are commonly installed to allow people with mobility issues to travel between floors and are often fitted in people’s homes.
They typically rely on hold-to-run operation and operate at slower speeds than conventional passenger lifts.
HSE said it 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”.
The notice said: “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.”
It added that three incidents occurred on early model Nami-lift 400 platform lifts. These lifts incorporate Bowden cables to control the door locks, which are more susceptible to incorrect adjustment, according to the HSE.
Some of the concerns outlined in the alert resulting from inappropriate maintenance included bent door lock switch contacts; shortened door lock pins; incorrect adjustment of Bowden cables; missing screws; poor adjustment of unlocking zone bypass mechanisms; and damage to doors and door frames.
As well as targeting companies providing lift maintenance, the HSE also wants owners and operators of lifts to take responsibility for ensuring equipment is regularly inspected and serviced.
It suggested that end-users could use simple test and daily checks to confirm that landing doors cannot be opened when they are not supposed to and the platform cannot travel without the door being closed.