Hospital lifts – what should you know?

  • A workplace as complex as a hospital relies on a vast network of systems and processes operating in harmony
  • In environments such as these, details – such as whether or not every lift is in proper working order – really matter
  • We are one of the UK’s leading providers of in-service equipment inspections, and here offer guidance on how to ensure lifts and other vital equipment is safe to use

Safely providing a 24/7 service for staff, patients and equipment presents a number of challenges for those responsible for the maintenance, servicing and inspection of hospital lifts.

“Hospital lifts get a lot of usage, much more than those in an office or apartment block, explains John McMullen, Chief Engineer, Zurich Engineering. “It is also very easy for damage to be caused, with beds or wheelchairs crashing into the doors or the lift car itself.

“In addition, while lifts are typically designed to operate for a certain number of times each day, carrying a certain weight, we have been to hospitals that are operating right at the edge of their capacity. This can increase maintenance times and costs.

“Lift ropes, for instance, will have a certain life cycle and will have to be replaced more frequently if the lift is being used more often than the manufacturers’ guidelines recommend.”

Providing a vital service

Hospitals are very reliant on lifts to quickly and safely transport people and equipment around the premises. But even brand-new super hospitals, such as the £1bn South Glasgow University Hospital, can have problems if staff or patients are unsure how they work. It is always worth making sure that clear signs for lift usage are provided.

On the rare occasions when a hospital lift breaks down, there can be significant disruption for staff and patients.

Examples like these demonstrate why hospitals must consider carefully the potential impact of a lift failure on vulnerable patients. Hospitals should also understand that even ultra-modern lifts can have their challenges.

“Many modern lifts are computer controlled, but the more complicated the lift, the more susceptible it is to faults,” says McMullen.

While your hospital will want to ensure lifts are inspected regularly for safety and operational reasons, there are also legal requirements relating to lift inspections.

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) require that all passenger lifts be inspected at least every six months.

Helping maintain your hospital equipment

Zurich’s team of 400 surveyors carry out two million inspections of lifting equipment each year, in buildings ranging from hospitals to offices, schools, government buildings and department stores.

Hospitals run round-the-clock operations, and cannot afford for any lift to be out of action for a prolonged period. Our engineers, who have built up strong relationships with the maintenance teams in the hospitals we inspect, try to avoid causing unnecessary disruption at peak times.

“Typically, we will visit early in the morning, or late in the evening. We can even go in during the night if required,” says McMullen.

“Our engineer surveyors will thoroughly examine all the safety-critical components, looking for signs of deterioration, to help manage risk and ensure the lift is safe to use.”

Hospital lifts get a lot of hard work and a lot of usage. It is very easy for damage to be caused”
John McMullen, Chief Engineer, Zurich Engineering

Zurich engineers also inspect other hospital equipment – ranging from pressure systems to electrical wiring – to help you comply with the relevant workplace legislation and ensure the safety of your buildings.