OTs Lift Hoist

The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) has addressed mobility providers’ concerns regarding health and care establishments cancelling equipment maintenance visits amid growing coronavirus worries.

According to a number of mobility companies, healthcare providers are asking firms not to come on-site and carry out LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment) and PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment) inspections.

Responding to industry concerns, Dr Simon Festing, Chief Executive Officer of the BHTA, stated: “Inspection and testing of equipment such as hoists and bathlifts are necessary to ensure these items continue to be safe for use, as covered under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment (LOLER) Regulations 1998*.

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“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, such as a garage area.  If it is not possible to do this, 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 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 PUWER Regulations 1998 also require that lifting equipment used at work is maintained, and a blanket lockdown on maintenance may result in equipment that is used on a daily basis having to be taken out of use.

The statement comes as a number of NHS Trusts across the country have placed restrictions on external supplier representatives visiting hospitals in a bid to reduce the spread of the virus.

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