HSE: WTG lifts pose safety risk 12 October 2023

Health and Safety Executive WTG service lifts (Image credit: AdobeStock by Postmodern Studio)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found there is a risk of serious injury or death to workers using, or working near, wind turbine generator (WTG) service lifts.

In a safety notice, HSE said duty holders must ensure that control measures are in place to prevent workers from coming into contact with moving lift cars or parts.

HSE investigated an incident at a WTG and found the design of landing gates and guarding did not eliminate or reduce access to dangerous moving parts of the lift car as it operated with external one touch controls. It was possible to reach the lift car and become crushed or sheared against the gates.

Equipment must be supplied with adequate means of preventing contact with parts of machinery that could lead to injury. Inadequately guarded service lifts are likely to be considered by HSE to create a serious risk to users.

Given risks involved from any retrofit programme on a WTG, it may not be appropriate to replace access gates and/or landing guards, but operators must assess and adopt suitable hierarchical control measures.

Operators should check that the necessary control measures are in place for all WTG service lifts. If the control measures are not in place, operators need to withdraw the lift from use.

Those responsible for supply, installation, use, inspection, servicing, maintenance and for examination of WTG service lifts must ensure that:

  • landing gates are positioned and constructed to prevent access to dangerous moving parts, that is far enough away so that they are not reachable, and they are interlocked to prevent lift operation unless closed
  • if positioned close to a carrier, the gates have either no openings or they are limited to prevent contact with any dangerous moving parts, with glass or fine mesh guards for example
  • there are means to stop the movement of an empty carrier at each landing, where that carrier can be sent or called from another level and there are reachable dangerous moving parts with no other means of preventing access
  • all locking gates and car doors are fully operational and in good repair

  • As part of the risk management and control arrangements, operators could consider:

  • using ‘hold to run’ controls within a carrier to protect the operator/passenger
  • how to protect people on a landing and other levels when a lift is moving, do they have means to halt the movement of the lift in an emergency? Can they reach dangerous moving parts of the carrier, whilst they are not in control of it?
  • how large openings in and around landing gates can give access to dangerous moving parts, or themselves become a shearing/crushing trap as the carrier raises and lowers, can you eliminate these by infilling or reducing openings or moving them further away?

  • Managing risk includes effective maintenance and inspection of equipment. Operators should:

  • review their risk assessment to ensure the appropriate number, frequency and nature of inspections, thorough examinations and tests is appropriate
  • ensure periodic inspections, measurements and checks include those items listed by the manufacturer in their maintenance and service schedule
  • ensure checks and inspections are undertaken only by those competent to do so

  • When supplying lifts for new WTGs, follow British Standard BS EN 81-44 ‘Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts - Special lifts for the transport of persons and goods. - Part 44: Lifting appliances in wind turbines’ (www.is.gd/ovudec).

    When designing landing gates to prevent access to moving parts during send and call operations of the lift follow British Standard BS EN ISO 13857 ‘Safety of machinery. Safety distances to prevent hazard zones being reached by upper and lower limbs’ (www.is.gd/negeso).

    Operations Engineer

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