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Safety warning issued after lift doors close on passenger’s face

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Thursday, 12 January, 2023 - 12:30
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
South Australia

SafeWork SA recently issued a safety warning to businesses that supply, install and maintain lifts following a recent incident in which a lift passenger suffered a serious injury.

SafeWork SA inspectors attended the elevator incident after a lift passenger sustained serious facial injuries. The lift stopped during a power outage and the passenger manually opened the doors.

When power was restored, the lift began moving again while the passenger was still in the open doorway, resulting in facial injuries.

The investigation into the incident found that a small piece of wire had been placed across the car door switch terminals in the controller. The short removed the monitoring of the car door position, allowing the lift to operate with the car doors partially or fully open, creating an unsafe condition.

SafeWork SA said businesses that supply, install and maintain lifts, including lift owners, need to be aware of the serious risk to the health and safety of a person or worker if any part of the safety circuit is not functioning correctly.

Shorting out any part of the safety circuit should only be performed by a competent person who has complete control of the lift and only while strict risk control measures are in place. Before leaving the site, technicians must verify that all shorting wires used during the task have been removed.

SafeWork SA also said a lift must never be placed back in normal service with any short circuit to the safety control system still connected, and the regulator recommended a number of safety solutions:

  • The lift safety control system should be checked and tested by competent technicians as part of the regular service visit in addition to the annual safety inspection.
  • Any work performed on a lift system must be done by a competent person who has the knowledge, experience and understanding of the hazards associated when working on the lift system.
  • Only approved shorting wires should be used. Unlabelled lengths of wire blended in with the standard controller wiring can be difficult to identify.
  • Shorting out any part of the safety circuit should only be attempted by a competent person and only when appropriate risk control measures are in place.
  • A lift must never be placed back in service with a short circuit in the safety system.
  • Any shorts placed in the safety circuit during a task must be removed before the technician leaves the site.
  • Lift owners are advised to be familiar with their responsibilities in owning a lift and the importance of regular maintenance and safety inspections.
  • Entry into the lift machine room must only be for authorised persons.
  • Machine room doors must be self-closing and self-locking with a danger sign on the door and keys only available to authorised persons.
  • Lift companies should conduct regular safety toolbox talks reminding their technicians of the serious risk to the health and safety of a person if any part of the safety circuit is not functioning correctly.