The HSE has issued a safety notice to alert organisations with vertical lifting platforms for people with impaired mobility, or passenger lifts installed at their premises as to the potential risks from over-riding safety devices at landing doors designed to prevent access to lifting platforms/lift wells or shafts.
Safety devices are designed to prevent doors from opening when the lifting platform/lift car is not at the correct position at a landing. Opening doors when the platform /car is not at the landing presents a significant risk of falling from height.
HSE is aware of two incidents where emergency landing door keys have been used to override the safety devices designed to prevent the opening of landing doors when the platform / lift car is not at the correct landing.
In both incidents the employees of organisations providing care to members of the public (non-employees) were allowed to use emergency lock release keys to open doors on upper landings during normal usage. The use of the key in this way allowed continued operation of the equipment under fault conditions. The emergency keys are intended to allow emergency access to the lifting platform in the event of people becoming trapped and should be under strict control.
As a result of inappropriate use of the emergency unlocking key during daily use of the lifting platform, access was gained to the lift well when the lifting platform was not at the same floor level. This resulted in persons accessing the open lift well and falling.
At one of the premises a resident died as a result of their injuries, and an employee was seriously injured.
Organisations which have such vertical lifting platforms or lifts installed should review their procedures to ensure that emergency door release devices are not routinely operated during non-emergency situations. Emergency unlocking should be undertaken only in exceptional circumstances and by suitably trained and authorised people.
Safe working procedures and arrangements should be in place setting out what to do in the event of an emergency or failure. For example, how to deal with trapped people and the arrangements for repairing faults.
All lifts and lifting platforms must be inspected, serviced and maintained. Where the lift is used by work purposes, it must be thoroughly examined by a competent person.
The full HSE Safety Notice can be accessed here.