The Lift and Escalator Industry Association (LEIA) called for the government to include lift engineers attending breakdowns, to release trapped passengers, and to carrying out essential maintenance work on lifts in critical buildings and infrastructure to be classed as “key workers”.
Overnight we have seen the following on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision
We are pleased to see that lift and escalator engineers whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response and those supporting health and social care, attending to release of trapped passengers, and those keeping transport working might be included by the guidance.
Nick Mellor said:
“We are pleased to see that lift and escalator engineers carrying out work critical to the COVID-19 response should be considered to be key workers. The industry stands ready to do its part keeping lifts and escalators running safely in these critical locations and to keeping members of the public safe by attending to release passengers trapped in lifts.”
“Elsewhere, we see that it is essential to carry on inspection and maintenance of lifts needed for the safety of the building such as evacuation lifts and lifts for firefighters“.
The HSE has advised the industry that if Thorough Examinations under LOLER are not carried out by the due date (6 months where lifting people) then the lifts must not be used until the Thorough Examination has been carried out. The HSE recognises that there is a higher risk of lifting equipment failure should it not be examined as per the six month schedule and dutyholders are expected to take all reasonably practicable steps to make sure their equipment complies with the law.
LEIA recognises that Thorough Examination is a check of the safety of equipment and does not itself keep it safe – this is the role of maintenance. So it is clear that equipment which is required to stay in use also needs to be maintained. There is a similar statutory obligation for owners to have work equipment maintatined (PUWER, reg5).
LEIA has the following guidance.
> Building owners have a key role and some building owners are advising lift companies not to carry out routine servicing on their equipment. This is especially the case for care homes, nursing homes etc. Where equipment is required to remain in use, then it is clear from HSE guidance that there is still a need for Thorough Examination and therefore for maintenance. We can see some limited scope for postponing planned preventative maintenance visits but, especially if the current situation remains for more than a few weeks, equipment left in service will require maintenance.
> Many buildings such as hospitals and healthcare, utilities, infrastructure, transport, food production, distribution and retailing, schools staying open for children of key workers, critical manufacture etc. will need to keep many of their lifts, escalators, and lifting platforms in service. In line with HSE guidance, Thorough Examination will continue to be needed and, on the same basis, maintenance will be required.
> Lifts designated as evacuation lifts and lifts for the use of firefighters will need to be considered as essential since they are part of the fire safety provisions of a building. These will need to have Thorough Examination and maintenance continued to be carried out.
> Where building owners have determined that their equipment is non-essential then it is clear from HSE guidance that these should be removed from service if a Thorough Examination has not been carried out by the due date. In these cases, Thorough Examination and at least a basic “caretaker” maintenance should be continued to ensure the safety of the equipment.
> Essential work includes responding to breakdown or shut-ins. We believe that trained lift engineers are better placed to be attending to shut-ins than the fire and rescue services or other emergency services who will be facing their own severe challenges. Response by a lift engineer might entail a longer time than a “blue light” service but the release procedure would be done by a trained and competent person.