What levels of maintenance exist in the UK lift industry?

Gareth Lomax from Ardent Lift Consultancy takes a look at maintenance contracts and how to ensure you are receiving the correct maintenance cover, as well as looking at LOLER Inspections.


We are looking to implement a new maintenance contract for our lift, what level of cover should we look to obtain?

As “owners and operators”, it is your responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure your lift is maintained on a regular basis. There are many variables in determining the frequency of programmed maintenance, i.e. the type of lift you have, the number of floors it serves and the level and type of use it is subjected to.

When deciding on the type of maintenance and maintenance company you require, it is important to remember servicing should be about preventative maintenance, highlighting the deterioration of components before they fail, providing a reliable lift service and lower running costs in the medium to long term.

Generally, within the lift industry, there are three levels of cover:

Basic - this level of cover allows for the maintenance only of lift equipment. Often described as an “oil and grease” contract, the lift company should be servicing components of the lift installation, but within this cover breakdowns, parts and labour are often excluded and are chargeable by the contractor.

Intermediate – as the title suggests, this cover sits somewhere between the basic and comprehensive and should cover breakdown attendances (usually during working hours) provided they are not due to misuse of the lift equipment. Some levels of intermediate cover will include perishable items (door rollers, car shoes, etc.) but this would be subject to the terms agreed within the cover.

Comprehensive – comprehensive cover should include all maintenance, breakdowns and parts required to maintain and repair the lift throughout the duration of the contract.

However, there are often caveats to this (such as controllers, machines or door operators being excluded) and it is always important to review the level of cover prior to signing the contract.

Generally, a comprehensive level of cover offers better long-term value (despite often costing twice the annual cost) as it means the lift contractor is more focused on preventative maintenance and a first fix for breakdowns.

Am I receiving the correct level of maintenance?

I am not an expert in the lift industry, how do I ensure what my maintenance company is doing is correct?

Good maintenance coupled with technical support is essential for providing a reliable lift service. Lift designs vary greatly and require different levels of technical ability to maintain correctly. Unreliability may be due to the age of equipment and obsolescence of replacement parts. Other causes may include inadequate workmanship, poor adjustment levels or poor quality of maintenance.

An unreliable lift is not only measured by the frequency of breakdowns, other issues such as poor levelling, noisy operation and performance issues are tell-tale signs that the lift is not correctly adjusted, which could potentially lead to larger issues.

Some simple signs to look for from your lift would be the following:

  • Lift stopping too high or too low at the landing floors
  • Doors opening or closing frequently before commencement of travel
  • Scrapes, knocks or bangs when the lift travels through the lift well
  • Excessive noise or heat emanating from the machine room (space)
  • Incorrect floor designation when the lift is called

Behind all the above issues, there are often simple causes that require minor adjustment to rectify, provided the problems are diagnosed in the correct manner.

Regular maintenance should be coupled with thorough examinations of the equipment by a competent person. Thorough examinations should NOT be confused with preventative maintenance, although they have some elements in common.

LOLER Inspections

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) introduced new requirements for the safe provision and use of lifting equipment. Regulation 9 of LOLER requires that all lifts provided for use in work activities are thoroughly examined by a competent person at regular intervals.

Who is a Competent Person?

  • Lift Insurance Inspectors
  • Client appointed persons (The person who is responsible for ensuring compliance to LOLER 1998 & HASAWA 1974 for that client) usually in larger organisations
  • Lift Engineer where they deem a specific component to be requiring a further in-depth examination

A thorough examination is a systematic and detailed examination of the lift and all its associated equipment. Its aim is to detect any defects which are, or might become, dangerous. The competent person should then report them to the duty holder and if appropriate the enforcing authority (the Health and Safety Executive or Local Authority).

The competent person is legally required to send you a written and signed copy of the report identifying any defects which need to be addressed. Giving details of any repair, renewal or alteration required to remedy the defect and a date by which it should be undertaken.

How do I know if my service provider is addressing the identified defects?

It is important to obtain written confirmation of the completion of the identified defects, particularly those of a timed nature. Subject to the level of maintenance contract in place, many items highlighted within the LOLER inspections can be addressed during the next scheduled maintenance visit.

However, on occasions, the lift contractor will need to quote for works beyond their contractual remit. This is often where the process falls down as the client is not always keen to spend further monies on works and often results in repeat items being seen on the reports. Key to this is often ascertaining what is mandatory for the client to undertake and what is recommended but not enforceable.


ARDENT Lift Consultancy can assist our clients with all maintenance issues by undertaking maintenance audits to assess quality of workmanship, adjustment levels, cleanliness and compliance with current Health and Safety legislation whilst inspecting documentation found at site, ensuring the performance, reliability and life expectancy of the equipment is maximised in a cost-effective manner and providing alternative solutions where required.

Reviewed: July 2019