Failure of mechanical, electrical or lifting equipment can be costly and disruptive to leaseholders and tenants, and could cause you major problems.
Independent engineering inspections help identify problems early, enabling you to organise and plan for repairs before a major failure occurs. With no vested interest in the outcome independent inspectors are unlikely to be biased, which means only necessary repairs are usually identified. Some inspections are a legal and statutory requirement.
Passenger lifts, for example, have to be inspected twice annually (Health & Safety Executive). Insurance against breakdown can also be added to a policy. It provides cover for the cost of repairs, so there will be no need to raid the management fund if the unexpected happens.
All blocks depend on the efficient working of plant and equipment, such as lifts, boilers, lighting and pumps. Unexpected failure can disrupt your life and may increase costs. Failure of mechanical, electrical or lifting equipment can be costly and disruptive to the leaseholders and tenants, and cause you major problems.
It is a legal requirement for many types of plant and machinery to be inspected on a regular basis. Unfortunately, some people believe engineering inspections are only desirable rather than essential.
The purpose of an inspection is to make sure the equipment is safe, it does not replace maintenance. An examination by a qualified inspector will:
The items listed below have to be inspected, either as a legal requirement or to comply with other statutes and, not least, to meet the requirements of your insurance policy.
Inspections are necessary for equipment where there are significant health and safety risks (H&S) as a result of incorrect installation, reinstallation and deterioration. Regular inspection can prevent potential hazards, save money and ensure compliance with UK H&S laws.
Machinery and plant all have varying inspection periods, depending on the type of equipment and includes items such as lifting equipment, boilers and electrical installations.
What to expect from an inspection:
Passenger lifts – Inspected: 6 months
It is a legal requirement for lifts to be inspected by an independent competent person. Inspections should not be carried out by the same person responsible for maintenance due to conflict of interest. Be aware that a maintenance plan may not include all statutory inspection requirements. Keep a record of inspections and a copy of the inspection certificates with your insurance documents. To help comply with the 1998 ‘Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations’ (LOLER), insurers offer a stand alone inspection service, separate to an Engineering Insurance policy.
Lift Car Guide Rail – Inspected: 12 months
Examination of the lift car guide rail in the shaft is essential. If faulty the lift could list, causing extensive damage and harming anyone inside.
Good lifts – Inspected: 12 months
Goods lifts are for carrying goods only and should never be used to carry people. Falling lifts and trapped limbs are among the most common risks.
Inspections will depend on the type of pressure system(s) you have. In blocks of flats these are listed below:
Hot water boilers – Inspected: 24 months
Hot water boilers keep the water temperature below 100ºC and typically provide heating of water for domestic and commercial use.
Pressurised hot water boilers – Inspected: 14 months
They are susceptible to corrosion and fatigue caused by excessive scale in the system.
Refrigeration Plant – Inspected: 48 months
Typically used for air conditioning, the main risk for refrigeration plant failure is pressure failure due to corrosion and fatigue.
Under the Electricity at Work Regulations Act 1989, it is a legal requirement to ensure the safety of electrical devices in blocks of flats, which are considered commercial premises for insurance purposes.
Wiring circuits Inspected: 3-5 years
Electrical wiring installations vary widely in complexity. To avoid shocks, burns and worse, the communal areas of blocks of flats have to meet strict health and safety standards determined by the government.
Alternators Inspected: 12 months
Alternators can be used as a backup in the event of an electrical power failure or interruption. Inspections identify obvious signs of wear and deterioration.
Motor Inspected: 24 months
Inspection of engines, motors, pumps and compressors are essential. In July 2010 a five-year-old girl was crushed to death by an automatic gate because it was faulty and did not meet British safety standards.
Most claims fall under two main causes:
Mechanical breakdown is usually defined as:
Most policies are worded to cover ‘Sudden and Unforeseen’ damage, which often also includes explosion, collapse and accidental damage. ‘Sudden and Unforeseen’ damage would cover immediate repairs or replacement. The policy holder merely has to prove the damage was both ‘sudden’ and ‘unforeseen’. The onus rests on the insurer to prove that any loss or damage was the result of an ‘excluded’ cause.
A lift breaks down with people trapped inside. The fire brigade is called and during the rescue operation, damage is caused to the lift door and opening mechanism. A claim is submitted for
costs to replace the doors and fitting; very labour intensive and very expensive.
Total cost: £10,071*
The motor on a lift is relatively new, under five years old, and the encoder has stopped working. The lift develops a levelling problem which has raises health and safety issues. The costs of works includes a replacement encoder and labour charges.
Total cost: £1,201*
The lift is out of order following a power surge during an electrical storm. A lift engineer is called to identify the cause of the problem and finds the lift’s lighting and safety control box has fused. These are removed from the main circuit and diagnostic checks reveal that the main circuit board and software is corrupted.
Total cost: £6,344*
* Based on actual claims received for similar work in 2017.
If you have any questions regarding what plant does require inspection by law please contact us to discuss. For a copy of our guide to Engineering insurance and inspection services and the cover provided under a standard policy* click here.
* For full terms and conditions please refer to the policy wording available on request. *As with all insurance policies, the policy is subject to limits, conditions and exclusions. For full terms and conditions please refer to the policy wording available on request. This document does not purport to be comprehensive or to give legal advice. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, Deacon cannot be held liable for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies contained within the document. Readers are always recommended to take further professional advice before making any decisions.