Block managers and residents have voiced their concerns in recent weeks about whether or not the safety checks in their buildings that are required by law should still go ahead during the COVID-19 outbreak, given the need for social distancing.
The HSE has responded this week to questions about lifts, confirming that blocks must continue to meet the requirements of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) and twice-yearly safety checks should still be carried out if at all possible.
The safety body does recognise how difficult it may be in some circumstances to carry out the required checks and tests, so it has set out some guidelines to help ensure that equipment remains safe to use, which you can read in full here. It’s important to note that the guidelines refer to “places of work” rather than specifically addressing the needs of residential buildings, but the rules are the same.
So, despite the problems being caused by COVID-19, it’s business as usual where lifts are concerned. But the HSE does say it will take “a pragmatic and proportionate approach” where blocks don’t comply with the statutory requirements if the breach is a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak.
This means that anyone who is considered a ‘dutyholder’ for the purposes of LOLER (and this could include building owners, block managers or RMC/ RTM Company directors) if challenged by HSE, must be able to demonstrate that they have made all reasonable attempts to have safety checks carried out, made a thorough assessment of the increased risk and taken appropriate action to manage it.
Finally, lifts that can’t be tested by the required date should only be used for “essential work” and where they can still be operated safely. Unfortunately, the HSE is not clear what that essential work might include. The Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM) has asked for clarification on that point and we will pass that information on via this blog once they report back.