The HSE has issued new guidance for care providers on LOLER testing during the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) due to challenges faced by industry in meeting the requirements to complete statutory thorough examination and testing (TE&T) of equipment to meet duties under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER).
They have identified four key issues which may cause difficulties in completing routine TE&T:
• Reduced availability of engineers to complete TE&T due to sickness absence or self-isolation as a direct result of COVID-19
• Owners of equipment (dutyholders) refusing access to premises for TE&T as they feel unable to accommodate visiting engineers while maintaining social distancing (SD) in the workplace
• Refusal of engineers to enter a dutyholder’s premises to carry out TE&T due to concerns over social distancing arrangements being adequate
• Equipment being unavailable for TE&T if a workplace or site is closed due to COVID-19 SD restrictions
Effectively in these cases TE&T may not be taking place due to either unavailability of or unwillingness of competent persons to deliver the service, or due to dutyholder's inability or unwillingness to give access to the equipment for testing.
CEO of the British Healthcare Trades Association, Simon Festing, has responded to concerns that health and care establishments are cancelling equipment maintenance visits; and that people may not receive the support they need for equipment in their own homes:
“Inspection and testing of equipment such as hoists and bathlifts is necessary to ensure these items continue to be safe for use, as covered under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment (LOLER) Regulations 1998*.
“If establishments are in lock-down, consideration should be given to whether the equipment can be brought to an outside location for testing and maintenance. If this is not possible, a risk assessment should be carried out, balancing the risk of allowing access to the equipment in situ and then cleaning and disinfecting, against the risk of the item failing if it is not taken out of use until inspection and testing can be carried out.
“Service providers will need to exercise judgement to determine what would be classed as essential need based on a risk assessment around patient /client safety, especially where a home visit may be necessary to assess, install and service equipment.
“Hospitals and care establishments will need to consider the wide range of equipment in use and ensure essential maintenance is carried out. Access to deliver staff training on the safe operation of equipment may also be essential, especially if staff are being switched to roles they would not normally carry out.”
*The Provision and Use of Work Equipment (PUWER) Regulations 1998 also require that lifting equipment used at work is maintained, and a blanket lock down on maintenance may result in equipment that is used on a daily basis having to be taken out of use.’
‘Care providers are expected to make all reasonable efforts to arrange for TE&T to be carried out within statutory time limits. Equipment should only be used outside of its test regime, if the dutyholder can demonstrate that its use is critical and that it can still be operated safely. They may have additional concerns that as well as possible problems in the availability of a competent person to undertake the TE&T, the vulnerability of those they provide care for means that additional COVID19 infection measures need to be implemented. Before agreeing to give the competent person access, they should undertake a risk assessment to review if the TE&T could be undertaken in a way that managed the COVID-19 risk to those receiving care and the visitor to site.’
Here at Hcsuk, we wanted to reassure you that our servicing division continues as usual, albeit with the following appropriate measures being put in place, to ensure that you can continue to operate your lifting equipment safely whilst remaining compliant and protecting your staff and residents at the same time:
- All of our team members have undergone basic infection control and hand hygiene training
- We are fully equipped with appropriate PPE, portable hand sanitisers and virucidal cleaner, and understand the relevance and correct use of them all.
- We understand and comply with social distancing measures which have been introduced.
- We are working with individual servicing customers to respect and comply with any specific requests to maintain hygiene and safety whilst on site at their premises.
- We have issued additional items of uniform to allow for more frequent laundering to maintain optimum hygiene levels.
- We have a range of moving and handling equipment available for purchase to eliminate the need for testing, and retain those out of test for subsequent use once they can be cleaned and examined at a later date.
- Where possible we encourage portable equipment and slings be cleaned appropriately and moved within the premises to a point where infection control and social distancing measures can be observed to allow our team to complete thorough examinations, or it is exchanged with equipment that has been tested.
- We maintain real time information on all of our servicing customers who have either suspected or confirmed COVID- 19 cases so we can be fully prepared and take extra precautions when attending these sites.
We can also help you with conducting remote moving and handling assessments, at a time when we can’t visit you personally. Our new Business Development Manager Jan Kelly, is a qualified equipment assessor and moving and handling is one of her specialised areas.
If you require any assistance please contact her on her mobile number 07968 994660 or email her at [email protected]
If, for whatever reason, you are unable to have your equipment tested in a timely manner, these are the steps you need to take:
- Any equipment that is not needed is clearly identified as being taken out of use until arrangements can be made for TE&T at a later date.
- Individual risk assessments are completed for fixed lifting devices where access cannot be arranged. This includes communication with the our servicing team about additional checks that could be undertaken to help reduce the risk to those being cared for and the staff. Equipment under these additional risk control measures need to be clearly marked, to ensure checks are undertaken and so the lack of TE&T can be remedied at the earliest opportunity (once current restrictions ease
Care providers need to document all of these measures, their risk assessments, decision making processes including, where relevant, the factors considered to justify continued use of equipment.
If you would like to talk to us further about any aspect of this article or to discuss how Hcsuk Servicing could benefit your organisation, then call Rachel TODAY on 01773 713713 or email her at [email protected]