HSE have recently issued a new safety alert about Platform Lifts (also known as Vertical Lifting Platforms) and the risks of falls from height to employees or members of the public.

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.

The safety alert looks to highlight potential dangers 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
  • 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.

HSE has also 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:

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