With the phased return to working from offices, many employers are looking at re-opening places of work that could include buildings with lifts that have not been in operation for some while.
The lifts in these buildings may have been taken out of service temporarily for the period of lockdown or it may be that they have just stopped working during this period of inactivity. Whilst lifts in general are very reliable and should just reset themselves when the power is retuned by resetting the main switch, it is important that the lift is checked by a Competent Person and have a current LOLER report before it re-enters service.
A Competent Person is described as someone who is suitably trained and qualified through knowledge and practical experience to carry out works in accordance with BS7255 (Code of Practice for safe working on lifts). This would typically be your lift contractor. It is unlikely that any organisation would have sufficiently trained employees among their own staff to meet the above criteria.
It is a relatively straight forward process for a Competent Person to reinstate a lift safely and correctly and therefore should not add any great expense to an already stretched financial budget.
We appreciate that many of our clients are in the health care sector and therefore have not had any such issues regarding decommissioned lifts. However, it is likely they will have had operational changes in the way in which these lifts are used, such as reducing the capacity of lift cars to allow for social distancing and possibly having segregated one COVID-19 designated lift to carry patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
Fortunately, there is a large amount of content and advice regarding lifts during the pandemic to help organisations deal with the issues. The Elevator World Publication (issue 104) features a number of articles with helpful information, although a subscription is required. Another excellent source of advice is from LEIA (lift and escalator industry association) Their website (www.leia.co.uk) features several free to download newsletters on the issues.
Probably the most comprehensive set of advice can be found via the CIBSE (Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers) website (www.cibse.org/coronavirus-covid-19/emerging-from-lockdown) who have produced 4 CIBSE COVID-19 documents:
Safely Reoccupying Buildings
This outlines the main areas that need to be considered concerning both safe working practices and the assessment of building services.
This deals with reopening buildings following a period of inactivity and considers the requirements for the ventilation system.
Recommissioning of Lifts and Escalators
This recommends the precautionary steps that should be taken before returning lifts and Escalators to regular service.
Lift use and occupancy
This document provides guidance on reducing the risk of using lifts in the current circumstances. It is primarily intended for application in offices, but may be applied to other buildings subject to an appropriate risk assessment.
The above documents are all free to download.