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If you are a lift owner or someone responsible for the safe operation of a lift used at work, such as a facilities manager or supervisor, you are a 'dutyholder' under LOLER. This means that you have a legal responsibility to ensure that the lift is thoroughly examined and that it is safe to use.

(If you are the owner of a lift used primarily by members of the public, you may also find this guidance helps you to comply with more general health and safety legal duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.)


What is a thorough examination?

A thorough examination is a systematic and detailed examination of the lift and all its associated equipment by a competent person. Its aim is to detect any defects which are, or might become, dangerous, and for the competent person to report them to the duty holder and, if appropriate, the enforcing authority (the Health and Safety Executive or local authority) so that appropriate remedial action can be taken. To determine the extent of the thorough examination, the competent person will assess the risks, considering factors such as where the lift will be used, frequency of use, age and condition, the weight of loads to be lifted, etc. Thorough examination should not be confused with preventive maintenance, although they have some elements in common. Preventive maintenance usually involves replacing worn or damaged parts, topping up fluid levels and making routine adjustments to ensure risks are avoided. Thorough examination may act as a check that maintenance is being carried out properly, but is not intended to replace it.

Thorough examination should include the following:

■■ landing and car doors and their interlocks;
■■ worm and other gearing;
■■ main drive system components;
■■ governors;
■■ safety gear;
■■ suspension ropes;
■■ suspension chains;
■■ overload detection devices;
■■ electrical devices (including earthing, earth bonding, safety devices, selection of fuses, etc);
■■ braking systems (including buffers and overspeed devices); and
■■ hydraulics.

This list is not exhaustive. More detailed guidance can be found in the Safety Assessment Federation's (SAFed) Lift guidelines (see Further information).

Role of the dutyholder

As the dutyholder you are legally responsible for ensuring that the lift is safe to use and that it is thoroughly examined. These responsibilities include:

■■ maintaining the lift so that it is safe to use;
■■ selecting and instructing the competent person;
■■ ensuring that the lift is examined at statutory intervals (every 6 or 12 months) or
in accordance with an examination scheme drawn up by a competent person;
■■ keeping the competent person informed of any changes in the lift operating
conditions which may affect the risk assessment;
■■ making relevant documentation available to the competent person, eg
manufacturer's instructions and maintenance records;
■■ acting promptly to remedy any defects;
■■ ensuring that all documentation complies with the Regulations; and
■■ record keeping.

Selecting a competent person

A competent person is someone who has sufficient technical and practical knowledge of the lift to be able to detect any defects and assess how significant they are. It is also important that the competent person is sufficiently independent and impartial to allow them to make an objective assessment of the lift. For this reason, it is not advisable for the same person who performs routine maintenance to carry out the thorough examination, as they are then responsible for assessing their own work.

The thorough examination

The law requires that all lifts when in use should be thoroughly examined:

■■ after substantial and significant changes have been made;
■■ at least every six months if the lift is used at any time to carry people, every
12 months if it only carries loads, or in accordance with an examination scheme; and
■■ following 'exceptional circumstances' such as damage to, or failure of, the lift,
long periods out of use or a major change in operating conditions which is likely
to affect the integrity of the equipment.

Note: When first installed, new lifts do not require any initial thorough
examination as long as they have been manufactured and installed in
accordance with the Lifts Regulations 1997 and have a current declaration of
conformity, ie made not more than 12 months before. A new lift is one where:

■■ no lift previously existed;
■■ an existing lift has been completely replaced; or
■■ only the existing guide rails and their fixings or the fixings alone have been retained.*

Action following notification of defects

The competent person is legally required to notify you as soon as possible, following a thorough examination, of any defects which are, or could soon become, dangerous. If you are notified of a serious and significant defect you should immediately take the lift out of service until the fault has been addressed. If you do not take the lift out of operation you will be in breach of the law. The competent person may also notify you of defects which need to be made good within a certain timescale. In this case, you should take steps to have the defective equipment repaired or replaced within the specified time, and not use the lift after that time unless the defect has been satisfactorily remedied.