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Lift Owners: Are You Aware of Your Legal Responsibilities?


Wherever there is a lift, there is a legal duty for the premises owner to ensure its safety. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) are the pieces of legislation that apply.




Wherever there is a lift, there is a legal duty for the premises owner to ensure its safety.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)are the pieces of legislation that apply.

PUWER covers the use of lifting equipment as work equipment. Under these regulations, all lifting operations involving lifting equipment must be correctly planned by a Competent Person, carried out safely and supervised in an appropriate manner.

LOLER requires that all equipment used for lifting is fit for purpose, of adequate strength and stability, suitably marked and appropriate for the task.

Under LOLER, any person or company who is responsible for the operation of a lift is required to make sure that the equipment is subject to statutory periodic ‘thorough examinations' by a Competent Person. For passenger lifts, the examinations must be carried out twice each year. Failure to comply with the legislation could land the lift owner with a fine and they are also likely to be prosecuted.

Periodic thorough examinations of lifts are not the same as routine lift maintenance. Here we will look at what these examinations actually involve, as well as the definition of a Competent Person.

Periodic Lift Examinations: Frequency and Requirements for Passenger Lifts

Any lifting equipment that has the potential to deteriorate and that is used to lift people must be examined every six months. If substantial alterations have been made to the equipment, or there has been a lift failure, any damage sustained or a change in operating conditions, or any other exceptional occurrence, then an additional examination will be necessary.

It is important to be aware that these inspections are required by law, and that adequate records must be kept including written reports and details of any tests carried out. Any defects must be reported to the person or company responsible for the equipment AND the enforcing authority.

Routine maintenance is also required by law, but it is not the same as a compliant thorough examination of the lift and its equipment: this is a separate requirement.

Definition of the Competent Person

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines a Competent Person as someone with sufficient knowledge and experience to identify and evaluate the risk of weaknesses and faults within lifting equipment. This would usually be an engineer surveyor or similar.

The Competent Person cannot be the same person who carries out the routine lift maintenance: they must be fully independent. The benchmark for ‘proof of competence' set down by the HSE is accreditation as a Competent Person by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) sponsored by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (formerly Department of Trade and Industry).

The Competent Person can be an employee, or an outsourced agent.

Are you a Legally Compliant Lift Owner?

Thorough examinations of lifting equipment are a legal requirement. Failure to comply could lead to criminal prosecution by the HSE potentially resulting in a custodial sentence and / or a fine, as well as civil prosecution by a claimant.

If you are unsure about your responsibilities as a lift owner, or would like some assistance in organising your period examinations and ensuring compliance with the law, you are welcome to contact us for advice.

You may also find the following HSE guidance useful:
Thorough Examination and Testing of Lifts: Simple Guidance for Lift Owners

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