When is an insurance report not an insurance report? Answer: when it’s a LOLER. It’s not the kind of riveting question that will get you going at your local pub quiz but the issue of insurance and LOLER reports is something we are asked about on a regular basis. What is an insurance report? What is a LOLER? Why do we need one? What happens if we do not have one?
Let’s start with what they are. Though many people refer to insurance reports, the reality is that no such report is used in the lift industry. In most cases when someone mentions an ‘insurance report’, the actual report being referred to is a LOLER report and the confusion tends to arise because in many instances the inspection is carried out by someone from an insurance company. The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, or LOLER for short, apply to all lifts provided for use in work activities. The regulations require that applicable lifts be subject to a thorough examination at regular intervals; in the case of passenger carrying lifts this is usually no more than six months. Being a regulation, compliance is a legal requirement for any applicable lifts.
The HSE’s definition of 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”.
They go on to define a competent person as being;
“someone who has sufficient and practical knowledge of the lift to be able to detect any defects…”
and who is;
“sufficiently independent and impartial to allow them to make an objective assessment of the lift.”
For this reason there is general consensus that these inspections should not be carried out by the incumbent maintenance contractor for the lift and in the absence of an alternative many insurance companies began offering the inspections as an additional service, therefore becoming known as insurance reports.
So thorough inspections under LOLER are therefore essentially a six monthly MOT for lifts. Fine I hear you say, but why do we need one? Our building is a residential apartment block not an office building. People live here rather than work here. That may be true, the HSE does suggest that LOLER may not apply in buildings where a passenger lift is not used by people for work; however, there are still a number of reasons why LOLER could well apply.
Staffed residential buildings will often fall under the category of workplace for those working within it. The employing of concierges, contract cleaners, building maintenance teams etc will all qualify your building as a workplace, meaning that it can fall under the LOLER requirements. However, even buildings without dedicated staff can fall under LOLER if they are owned by a landlord and feature rented or leased apartments. So too can buildings that are managed by a managing agent. In short, the nature of LOLER and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 is such that there are very few instances in which the acts would definitely not apply.
It is important to reiterate that the undertaking of LOLER inspections is a statutory requirement. But just as important is ensuring that you act upon the recommendations of the report and keep adequate records of both the reports themselves and any works arising from them. Recent inquests into a number of tragic accidents involving lifts have highlighted the risks associated with failing to correctly manage these inspections and the resulting recommendations. There was no suggestion that a lack of inspections themselves caused these accidents. However, in each case it was pointed out that through either a lack of inspections or the failure to act upon the recommendations, valuable warning signs were missed, which may have played a part.
Administering LOLER reports is one of the most important elements of lift management. Identifying timed defects and establishing that remedial works are completed within the permitted periods are essential to ensuring that your lifts remain compliant with current legislative requirements. There is no doubt that this can sometimes be a daunting task, especially on larger lift portfolios. Whether any remedial works are covered by your maintenance provider will depend upon the individual contract in place and finding the best price for items not covered is not always easy.
If you are unsure about the need for LOLER inspections for your lifts, or if you are having difficulty managing your inspections or reports, we would always recommend employing an independent expert. Lift consultancies such as ILECS have a dedicated lift management team, who can assist in all areas of lift administration including LOLER inspections and reports, offering advice and guidance on any works required, obtaining best value on chargeable repairs, verifying completion of works and notifying the client of that completion.
David Pickering MSc MCIBSE, Associate Director at Ilecs Limited