Poor standards of health and safety in the demolition and dismantling of lifts

Health and Safety Executive - Safety alert

Department Name:
Field Operations Directorate - Construction

Bulletin No:
FOD 1-2013

Issue Date:
28 June 2013

Target Audience:
, engineering, others including: demolition, lift industry and CDM duty holders (specifically clients, principal contractors, and CDM coordinators)

Key Issues:
Serious concerns about the poor management of risks involved in the dismantling or demolition of lifts in buildings due for refurbishment or demolition

Introduction & background

HSE is concerned about the poor management of risks involved in the dismantling or demolition of lifts in buildings due for refurbishment or demolition. Recent accident investigations, including fatalities, have suggested that poor work practices are commonplace during this activity. This document reminds those undertaking or controlling such work of the need to fully assess and manage the risks arising.

Action required:

Lifts are complex machines which can be configured to operate in many different ways. Work on any lift should only be carried out after thorough planning to ensure the risks associated with the specific task and equipment are understood and can be managed to prevent anyone being harmed.

The main safety legislation that applies to demolition and dismantling work is listed after this section. The legislation requires dutyholders to assess, plan and carry out the work in a manner that avoids injury to persons. In relation to demolition and dismantling work on lifts the following principles should be applied:

Demolition and dismantling work must be planned by competent persons with knowledge of the principles and operating modes of the specific lift machine, its related safety features and the means by which it is incorporated into the structure of the building. All of these matters will help determine the most suitable method of work for the dismantling/demolition activity.

Consideration must be given to the effect any work will have on the structure of the building the lift is housed in. The method of work should take into account the features and current state of the installation such as any suspended masses and stored energy in the counter weights, lift cars, ropes etc.

Suspended components should only be released under load where the risk assessment suggests that on balance this presents the lowest risk method of work. Where this is the case, a remote method of work should be used in conjunction with establishing robust exclusion zones. These should typically include the lift motor room and any pulley rooms, lift landings especially at lowest level, lift well and any accessible spaces under it, and any areas that material could intrude into. Release under load should not be used if damage could occur to structures or fittings that are to be retained.

Clients and Principal Contractors must satisfy themselves that any Contractors appointed to do this type of work are competent and adequately resourced to carry out the work. Consideration should be given to the appointment of specialist contractors to carry out this work. Those in control of the work should also ensure there is co-operation between contractors involved in working on the same project.

The following British Standards contain information that may assist clients and contractors to plan and carry out work to demolish or dismantle a lift:

  • BS 6187:2011 Code of Practice for Full and Partial Demolition - Clause 5.2.2 on risk management
  • BS 6187:2011 Clause 8.2 (j) which refers to controlled release of stored energy in strong springs or suspended counterweights
  • BS 7255:2012 Code of Practice for Safe Working on Lifts - Annex E clause E.7 Dismantling - which refers to items of equipment not being allowed to free-fall
  • BS 7255:2012 Clause 5.2: demonstrable competence in basic lift safety can be achieved with NCQ EOR/202 "Working safely in an engineering environment - Basic lift safety", although other suitable certified achievements might exist

Relevant legal documents:

  • Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007:
    • Regulation 29 - Demolition or dismantling
    • Regulation 4 - Competence
    • Regulation 5 - Co-operation
    • Regulation 6 - Co-ordination
    • Regulation 10 and 15 - Client's duty in relation to information
    • Regulation 13 - Duties of contractors
    • Regulation 22, 23 and 24 - Duties of Principal Contractor
    • Regulation 28 - Stability of Structures
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
    • Regulation 3 - Risk Assessment
  • Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 Sections 2 and 3

Additional legislation applies to specific issues such as preventing falls from height, electrical disconnection and to situations involving less extensive work on lifts such as inspection, testing, maintenance and repair.


  • BS 7255: 2012 Code of Practice for Safe Working on Lifts
  • BS 6187:2011 Code of Practice for Full and Partial Demolition

Further information:

General note:

Please pass this information to a colleague who may now or in the future be involved in carrying out, planning or supervising the demolition or dismantling of lifts.

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