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Lift Safety and Audit Benefits

Every now and then you hear of someone who was trapped in a lift. So what do you do if you or one of your tenants become trapped? Firstly, don’t panic! You are perfectly safe. You will not suffocate and you cannot fall. Press the door-open button to see if the lift is still sitting at floor level, but with the doors closed. Try another level button. If none of this helps, locate and use the emergency telephone typically marked as a button with a telephone symbol. Sometimes the emergency telephone is triggered by the alarm button marked with a Bell symbol. If the operator fails to answer, ring the alarm bell and wait for a response. If you can get a mobile phone signal, you can also call for assistance. Try to phone the lift company or building manager first but, if all of these options fail, you will need to call 000. Never try and extract yourself from the lift by forcing the car doors open as you may inadvertently expose yourself to significant risk of serious injury or worse.

So what can you do, or advise others to do, to enhance lift safety? I recommend the following:

  1. When entering a lift, be mindful NOT to drag extension cords, dog leads, pram tethers, harnesses etc. This is critically important! If the end is trapped in the bottom of the landing doors but the car and landing doors are able to fully close at the top of the opening, the lift will not detect there is anything trapped. When the lift moves away, the other end of the cord, dog lead, pram tether etc. inside the lift will be pulled with a force that could be equivalent to a couple of tonnes. It’s not hard to imagine what could go wrong.
  2. Only engage a lift maintenance contractor with a good local reputation and not assume, because they are an international name, that they must be doing a good job.
  3. Make sure your lift installation is independently audited annually to verify the work of the maintenance contractor and to confirm the lift’s general condition. A poorly maintained lift will lead to breakdowns, or worse, and may cost a significant sum to fix. An audit provides confidence in the installation, and helps to identify anomalies in contractor performance or scope. Also, lifts do not last forever. All of the moving parts of the lift wear, and/or become redundant in time. At some point the equipment will be cheaper and safer to replace than to repair.
  4. If there is a fire in your building never use the lifts to evacuate. Evacuate the building using the exits marked at each fire stair well.

This article was contributed by David Balfour from Engineering Accountabilities. David completed his apprenticeship as a lift mechanic with Elevators Pty Ltd in the early 1980s and is also an RPEQ/Chartered Mechanical Engineer. David’s company, Engineering Accountabilities, is available to assist you with your lift auditing requirements.

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