Are hazard evaluations mandatory in lifts?
Regular maintenance and inspection are not enough. Those who operate lifts must guarantee they are safe to use. To this end, operators have to recognise potential hazards early on.
Only in this way can they assess their liability risk and plan modernisations in good time. In Germany, lifts belong to the category of installations subject to monitoring, although they are among the safest modes of transport. Nevertheless, with the amendment of the Operational Safety Ordinance (BetrSichV) three years ago, the demands on operators increased yet again.
Potential hazards identified
Among other things, a hazard evaluation must be carried out for lifts. Divergences from the state of the art are determined and potential hazards identified. This can be performed by an authorised inspection body like TÜV or Dekra or a qualified maintenance company.
Nevertheless, many operators react with incomprehension when their lift company draws their attention to the need for a hazard evaluation. Surely professional maintenance and regular inspections by authorised inspection bodies are enough to guarantee safe lift operation?
Operators are equated with employers
Possibly in a single case, but not in the sense of the BetrSichV. It equates lift operators with employers provided the former "utilise an installation subject to monitoring for commercial or economic purposes."
Deciding just who is and is not an employer is not as simple as it appears here. For example, every lift operator is legally obliged to designate a lift attendant or authorised person. One could assume an employer function here. Drawing a boundary is difficult.
Operational safety for all users
So which lift operators need a hazard evaluation? In the first place, those with employees. But even if the ‘employer’ has no employees, but the lift is used by employees, the operator must have a hazard evaluation carried out, for example, for buildings with mixed usage, including flats and business premises, etc.
The BetrSichV goes even further: for it, every lease constitutes commercial use – even if only one flat is rented in a residential property owners’ association. Which property operators do not have to have any hazard evaluation carried out? Only the operators of lifts entirely for personal use. But as soon as third parties use the lift, such as visitors in a multi-family house in a residential property owners’ association, a hazard evaluation is mandatory.
Exception for purely personal use
This is why only those properties are exempt from the hazard evaluation obligation that are intended exclusively for personal use, for example, multi-floor properties provided the lift is secured by a code or lock, or in a single family house to which third parties have no access.
But these are probably exceptions, especially since each federal state can lay down divergent regulations in its building code. Consequently, almost everyone has to conduct a hazard evaluation.
However, the hazard evaluation serves to protect the users as well as the operator. As soon as it is available, the operator must institute the measures required to guarantee safe use of the lift. Moreover, it must be able to demonstrate to an authorised inspection body or official body that it has produced a hazard evaluation.
This sounds more complicated than it actually is. Based on a checklist, the authorised inspection body and the qualified maintenance company determine divergences from the state of the art. This reveals hazards with differing risks (low, medium and high). By contrast with the recurrent inspection, where this checklist is also used by the authorised inspection bodies, the hazard evaluation in addition examines the hazards arising from the surroundings of the lift.
However, the hazard evaluation is not only useful to the operator in terms of safety: to ensure long-term economic operation of lifts, modernisation measures should be carried out according to a plan and give priority.
This will also secure the availability of spare parts, reduce repair-related shutdowns and lower operating costs. This is why operators should contact qualified lift companies in good time, ones which can not only carry out maintenance, but also the modernisations required and jointly draw up a modernisation plan for outdated lifts.
Frank Kurtenbach, Business Line Manager Modernisierung Schindler