Operational Safety Ordinance: A blessing in disguise?
The main topic at the Operators’ Day of the lift company Niggemeier & Leurs in Bottrop was the amended Operational Safety Ordinance. The reformulated provisions were examined from all angles and subjected to controversial debate.
"The Operational Safety Ordinance has only one purpose: to protect people working with equipment.” This was the formulation chosen by Hartmut Hardt, lawyer and member of the Board of Management of the VDI Association Construction and Building Technology. At the invitation of Niggemeier & Leurs about 60 lift operators were in attendance. "Whoever is responsible for supervising the safe operation of a lift has to guarantee safety and protection of health,” Hardt explained.
Comprehensive work and health protection
These were primarily the employers. "However, anyone who makes use of a system subject to monitoring for commercial or business purposes has the same responsibility as the employer," added Horst Schickor, managing director at Niggemeier & Leurs. There was a certain grey zone where a lift was used purely private purposes. Then not even a cleaning lady might use it, Schickor noted.
"Even if the responsibility for safety and health protection in the meaning of the Operational Safety Ordinance is regulated by German federal and EU law, this involves much more than complying with its provisions,” explained Hans Joachim Hauser from the Dusseldorf District Administration – one of the supervisory authorities responsible for the operation of lifts. It was far more a question of comprehensive work and health protection. "And this is a management task,” the expert emphasised. Among other things, Hauser is responsible for monitoring the inspection intervals of lifts subject to monitoring. This also includes guaranteeing observance of the Operational Safety Ordinance.
Hazard evaluation was decisive
Hauser and his authority always take action if a licensed monitoring body reports an irregularity, safety-relevant damage or an accident where people have been injured have occurred. According to Hauser, in order to prevent this happening in the first place, hazard evaluation was decisive along with continuous maintenance and modernisation measures. "For both, operators must rely on competent experts,” he urged, "in order to avoid being called to account in the event of damage.”
"If there is a legal dispute after an accident, it often makes all the difference if a lift operator can prove the areas of responsibility had been transferred in a legally binding manner through suitable contractual arrangements," Hardt said, speaking from experience. The Munich Higher Regional Court had made clear in an applicable decision that this required the assistance of an expert. Operators were obliged to arrange regular checks, proper maintenance and the prescribed inspections.
This was also how the VDI saw matters, Hardt added. "Effective delegation must include comprehensive and sufficiently specific instructions.”. Which maintenance measures were conducted internally and which outsourced then had to be clarified. The latter at all events had to be the subject of a contract with a specialist company.
"Operators must always ask themselves whether they showed the due degree of care in the context of the action that was possible and reasonable,” Hardt summed up. The experts in Bottrop were agreed that the Operational Safety Ordinance had established a sensible and obvious framework through its detailed regulations.
Lutz Leurs, the managing director of the company, considered the Operators’ Day to have been a complete success. He announced that the company would once again inform operators of current and fascinating news from the world of lifts in the coming year.
The speakers' presentations can be retrieved at www.niggemeier-leurs.de.