Restarting the hospitality trade – have you checked your lift?

This article contains paid-for content created in collaboration with Stannah Lifts

By Alastair Stannah, Managing Director at Stannah Lifts

The hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a turbulent time for all concerned, and has had a tremendous impact on small and independent businesses in particular.

Now things are finally looking up, as surviving restaurants, hotels, pubs and coffee shops all over the UK are focusing their attention on reopening in line with the roadmap leading us out of lockdown. Restrictions may differ slightly across the four nations, but preparations are in full swing as hospitality businesses are preparing to open for outside serving mid-April followed by indoor restrictions easing in the following months.

Yet again, hospitality businesses must realign to ensure their premises are COVID-secure. Health and safety compliance is therefore one of the biggest areas of concern. The reopening checklist is long, but if anything is missed it can further delay the prospect of welcoming customers back.

Businesses have a legal obligation to carry out health and safety checks, and part of this responsibility means ensuring that electromechanical equipment such as lifts can safely transport people and goods.

This article examines some of the checks business owners and other responsible persons of premises should be carrying out ahead of time to make sure their lifts do not stop them from reopening. It also looks at the unique opportunity to install microlifts, as part of potential reconfigurations of hospitality venues already underway to support social distancing, with the added effect of boosting efficiency and revenue.

What is a ‘duty holder’?

Generally speaking, a duty holder is any person who is officially appointed to be responsible for a specific aspect of health and safety in a building.

In terms of lift maintenance, the owner or an otherwise officially appointed individual, such as a facilities manager or supervisor, as duty holder, is held responsible for the safe operation of a lift used at a place of work. Duty holders have a legal responsibility to ensure that the lift is thoroughly examined and that it is safe for everyone to use.

Legal requirements for lifts

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over all types of lifting equipment. This includes most businesses and organisations whose employees use lifting equipment, whether this equipment is owned by them or not. This also applies to lifts used to lift people or loads, so it covers dumbwaiters, platform lifts and passenger lifts as well.

The regulations require that all equipment used for lifting is fit for purpose, appropriate for the task and suitably marked. According to Regulation 9 of LOLER, lifts require statutory and periodic ‘thorough examinations’ – a systematic and specialised process of examination for any defects in the equipment – by a competent person at regular intervals.

In most cases, lifting equipment is also work equipment so the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) will also apply. For this reason, it is vital that this equipment is LOLER compliant to avoid potential issues relating to injuries at work. If they are not found to be compliant, there could be potentially serious legal repercussions for employers, including possible prison sentences for highly culpable individuals. This means that duty holders responsible for ensuring safety at work could be prosecuted for any accidents.

LOLER inspections are carried out by lift servicing companies or specialist engineering firm, with the person conducting the inspection able to demonstrate competence, sufficient authority and impartiality about the condition of the lift. The thorough examination and servicing may be carried out by the same company, but it should not be done by the same person.

The lift owner’s reopening checklist

For lift owners gearing up for reopening, the first port of call will be checking existing inspection paperwork to make sure all legal reporting obligations for lifts are met, such as LOLER thorough inspections at regular intervals. Additionally, lift owners must ensure that maintenance and breakdown cover is in place and any servicing obligations are undertaken on time.

For many businesses, lockdown meant planned service visits and LOLER inspections were cancelled. Business owners should plan for the inspection to be completed at the earliest opportunity, ideally before the building reopens to the public. As the easing of restrictions will lead to an increase in demand, booking as far ahead as possible will save delays.

If the lift has been left turned on but not used for a while, it is worth carrying out a quick check once a week in the runup to reopening. This would involve running the lift car up and down, plus a thorough visual inspection of the lift doors and car.

If your lift was turned off, getting it going again might not be quite as easy. Unknown issues could be lurking that could cause a significant problem. To turn it back on, a LOLER inspection will be required. Additionally, any lift that has been switched off should be switched back on by a competent lift engineer, to ensure the safety of the equipment before it is placed back into service.

Maximising efficiency with a microlift

As hospitality premises prepare to reopen, many are considering improving the layout of their sites to meet COVID-19 legislative requirements. Whether opening an upstairs or downstairs space, microlifts or so-called dumbwaiters may be your answer.

Dumbwaiters can fit into very small spaces and can transport plates, glasses, food and more quickly between the kitchen, restaurant and additional floors. They also offer the long-term benefits of reducing manual handling risks, and cutting handling or serving time, as well as enabling rearranging spaces for social distancing benefits. They can increase the efficiency of staff and thereby boost much needed revenue as premises reopen.

Stannah has installed more than 22,000 microlifts in the UK, of which more than a third have been placed in hospitality venues.

As there is a small amount of building work required, installing a service lift could disrupt your business if open. Now could very well be the ideal time to install one as part of reopening preparations of sites before restrictions are lifted and customers and staff are back in premises.

The supply and install price for a dumbwaiter typically starts from £6,000, and for those considering a small service lift the first step is to arrange a COVID-secure site survey to discuss possible locations and sizes. Most new dumbwaiters will include 12-month warranty and servicing costs as standard.

Peace of mind with a service contract

Finally, lift owners who do not currently have a service contract in place should strongly consider getting in contact with a reputable lift inspection and servicing company to consider the benefits of proactive maintenance. A service and maintenance contract is a cost-effective way of ensuring your lifts operation and safety – helping to demonstrate compliance to LOLER and your duty of care.

Preventative lift maintenance means lifts are kept in optimum operating condition, leading to fewer breakdowns, higher reliability and lower overall running costs.

Stannah has been in the business of lifts for over 150 years and is a market leader in servicing the hospitality industry. Stannah’s wide breadth of product experience includes passenger lifts, microlifts, platform lifts and more, and they can offer a service contract for any existing lift, regardless of make or model. All of Stannah’s service and maintenance contracts include regular maintenance visits, complete condition reports and can also include personnel to carry out all tests and examinations.

With reopening so close, it is wise to ensure that any existing lifts on the business premises does not hold up reopening. Whether it is for the safe operation of a single lift or to manage a large portfolio across multiple sites, the peace of mind business owners can get from having a service contract in place is invaluable as they prepare to safely welcome back their long-missed customers.

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