Lifting equipment can pose a threat to workers in the motor vehicle repair (MVR) trade if employers do not keep on top of health and safety legislation governing the matter.
Ashley Hutton, liability risk adviser at Aviva, explains that businesses can often focus on the thorough examination of such equipment under the Lifting Operations Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). In fact, there is a range of regulation governing this type of machinery, from regular maintenance and inspections from a competent person, to carrying out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. Both Aviva Risk Management Solutions and its preferred engineering inspections provider, Bureau Veritas, are able to help clients meet legal compliance.
The potential hazards of working in the MVR sector were highlighted last month by officials at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who issued a warning about short-bed scissor lifts manufactured by Texo, which also features a Hofman badge on some machinery. A ten-year-old model of the equipment suffered a "catastrophic" failure which came about as a result of a crack in the lifting arm - a fault which HSE subsequently identified in four other identical lifts at the same premises.
Although scissor lifts are less common than their two-post or four-post equivalents in the UK, it is believed that there are at least 1,000 of them in MVR facilities across the country, including tyre and exhaust fitting sites.
Following the incident, Texo has updated its instruction manual advising employers and self-employed workers in the sector to raise the lift to a minimum height of 150 mm out of the ground before it can take a load. It went on to urge workers only to use the rubber blocks which are supplied with the lift, which reduce the height at which the machine starts to raise a vehicle.
In order to ensure that their scissor lifts, or any other lifting equipment, are kept in good working order, they are subject to regular examinations. Any vehicle hoists must be given a thorough examination every six months. Furthermore, chains, wire ropes and lifting tackle must have Certificates of Test and Examination prior to their use. This is in addition to employers or self-employed workers in the industry carrying out general risk assessments on all working activities.
Aviva Risk Management Solutions (ARMS) can help businesses with every sort of risk assessment, from general matters to the specific issues governing the use of lifting equipment. It can even help train staff to carry out their own risk assessments - to find out more call 0500 55 99 77.
After the failure of the Texo machinery, HSE warned that although it has not identified similar faults in the products made by any other manufacturer, the risk of overload through incorrect use could apply to any in-ground scissor lift.
While the incident did not lead to any personal injury, Ashley Hutton pointed out that it could easily have been fatal. Consequently, he urged those responsible for the management of scissor lifts to plan all of their lifting operations so that systems of work meet those set out in the new instruction manual issued by Texo.
Furthermore, he recommended that those in the MVR industry should, where necessary, seek external guidance or assistance in order to meet the required legal standards regarding the machinery, including LOLER, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.