Lift checks and testing during the coronavirus outbreak

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published new guidance on carrying out lift examinations and testing during the coronavirus outbreak.

We know that some of our members have been experiencing challenges in engaging lift engineers to conduct checks on lifts or to carry out maintenance. This is a particular concern where housing association residents rely on lifts, for example within communal supported housing or care home facilities.

We have therefore been engaging with the HSE to secure consistent guidance on how housing associations should approach this.

Summary of the guidance

The guidance states that the statutory obligation to ensure that equipment is maintained and safe to use remains in place, and that testing and examination remain a fundamental part of the management process.

Dutyholders are expected to make ‘all reasonable efforts’ to arrange for testing and examination to be carried out within the statutory time limits. This includes:

  • Ensuring inspection bodies have access to the equipment in a timely manner.
  • Working with the inspection body to manage appropriate social distancing in the workplace. The full guidance contains more information on managing social distancing for inspection activities.
  • If your inspection body is unable to provide engineers due to staff absence, dutyholders must make reasonable attempts to source engineers from another provider.

The guidance also provides advice for inspection bodies on meeting their clients’ needs, prioritising resource and supporting safety to ensure essential industries and services continue to operate.

It also indicates that the inspection industry is prioritising businesses essential to the national infrastructure, or protecting vulnerable groups, in which it includes social housing.

Where examinations cannot be undertaken

The guidance recognises that there are likely to be circumstances in which some dutyholders may find it difficult to comply with statutory requirements for lift testing and examination, where equipment may need to continue operating beyond the period of examination.

In these cases – and where the steps summarised above have been followed – dutyholders must take competent advice in order to make a decision about whether to continue operating the equipment.

Where they conclude that equipment can still be used, the guidance sets out the process and information that dutyholders need to follow in order to justify their decision. Where equipment is deemed unsafe to use without the appropriate inspection, it must be taken out of use.

The guidance also states that where contraventions of statutory compliance can be demonstrated to be directly attributed to the coronavirus outbreak, HSE will adopt a pragmatic and proportionate approach towards enforcement actions.

The full guidance, which is available on HSE’s website, also sets out information on conducting risk assessments, ensuring social distancing, and a number of scenarios and approaches.